Baking gnocchi in the oven is amazing – crispy on the outside, soft and melty on the inside! This easy traybake recipe combines gnocchi with roasted peppers, asparagus and the most delicious and dreamy avocado pistachio pesto. The recipe as written is vegan, and with lots of opportunities to vary and customize this recipe, you are sure to be onto a winner.
Tray bake dinners are so popular around here, and I am excited to report that I have found a new candidate for the tray bake treatment…. gnocchi!
Did you know that you can roast packaged dry gnocchi in the oven to give it a crispy exterior without first boiling it? It totally works, and it makes a gnocchi tray bake really easy to put together for dinner. You can just roast the gnocchi alongside some vegetables (I went for peppers and asparagus) and it will come out of the oven just right.
This recipes uses dry packaged gnocchi
We want the shelf stable stuff you buy in the pasta aisle, not frozen, refrigerated or homemade gnocchi which I haven’t tested this with.
The good news is, this kind of gnocchi can be really inexpensive. I like to buy it from Aldi where it’s only 75p.
Choosing our Vegetables
We are looking for vegetables that will cook about right in 30 minutes in the oven at 180C / 360F (although our veggies and gnocchi are layered up a bit so this will slow cooking down). They shouldn’t be too sensitive to under or over cooking, because we base our cook time around getting the perfect texture of the gnocchi, so the vegetables need to just fit in with that.
- Peppers are perfect because they are tasty whether they’re raw or totally melty and caramelized. In my experience they end up lightly roasted here, but not in the super soft melt-in-your-mouth zone. You could precook your peppers ahead of adding the gnocchi and asparagus if you’d rather get them really melty, but I choose the easier route in this case.
- Asparagus also seems to works well with this cook time. The stalks are just right, and the tips are a little caramelized.
- You may also have success with onions, cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts.
- My recipe adds everything at once, but if you’re happy to add things in stages, you could throw in things like peas, corn or spinach into the pan towards the end of the cook time.
Additionally, because we’re cooking this in a casserole dish and the layers are overlapping a little, you do not want the vegetables to have a high water content because they will leach moisture as they cook. This will stop the gnocchi from getting crispy. So this rules out the likes of mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and some squashes. If you want to use these types of vegetables, you will need a sheet pan or XL baking tray where you can spread everything out so it doesn’t overlap too much- like in this Gnocchi with Mushrooms recipe. And the cook time will be quicker.
The Avocado Pistachio Pesto
This is a rule breaker and I am not sure it counts as a pesto. But it’s a really good sauce! As you can see, it’s thick and chunky and I just like to scoop it over the top of the dish rather than mix it all in.
We lean into spring-summer tastes here by using cilantro (fresh coriander), mint and lime. Combined with pistachios and half an avocado for decadent creaminess, it is so tasty! And it pairs perfectly with the peppers and asparagus. I really want you to try this pesto but if you are currently thinking this isn’t going to work for you, these are my recommendations:
- An avocado basil pesto is a worthy swap if the herbs aren’t doing it for you. Try the recipe that comes in this genovese recipe.
- You can of course use a store bought plain basil pesto, and maybe add some slices of avocado to the dish once it’s cooked?
- If the pistachios are the issue, do feel free to swap for another nut. Cashews or almonds are certainly more affordable. There is a richness from the pistachios that I am obsessed with, so if you’re on the fence about getting pistachios I will tell you to go for it! But it’s still going to be tasty enough without them.
- The lime in the recipe can easily be subbed for lemon, it’s a very subtle difference.
If this kind of dinner is up your street, I do have a few other ideas to share too…
More Vegetarian Tray Bakes
Gnocchi Tray Bake with Avocado Pesto
- 500 g (18 oz) package of dry gnocchi
- 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 250 g (9 oz) asparagus, sliced into 3 pieces per stalk
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 Tbsp pistachio
- ½ medium – large avocado
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 handful cilantro (fresh coriander)
- 2-3 sprigs mint leaves
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- salt, to taste
- Heat the oven to 180C fan / 200C / 400F.
- Prepare your gnocchi, garlic and vegetables. Place it all in a large mixing bowl, then drizzle the olive oil over it slowly, mixing throughout, to get everything evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.500 g package of dry gnocchi, 2 red bell peppers, 250 g asparagus, 3 cloves garlic, 4 Tbsp olive oil, Salt and pepper
- Scatter into a wide, deep casserole dish and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Take it out at the halfway mark to mix and flip everything (this will help it cook more evenly and not stick to the pan) with a spatula.
- In the meantime, prepare your pesto by blending all of the ingredients in a mini food processor.4 Tbsp pistachio, 1/2 medium – large avocado, 1 large clove garlic, 1 handful cilantro (fresh coriander), 2-3 sprigs mint leaves, salt, 4 Tbsp olive oil
- The gnocchi is ready when it's lightly golden but still a bit springy. The vegetables should be browning at the edges. Remove from the oven.
- Scoop dollops of the pesto over the top, and some additional chopped herbs if desired. Serve immediately.