Roasted Tomato,Pesto and Sausage Gnocchi with Toasted Walnuts

Roasted Tomato,Pesto and Sausage Gnocchi with Toasted Walnuts

Recently, Johnsonville Sausage sent me a box full of lots of fun Italian foods to play with in conjunction with their Johnsonville Kitchen Italian Inspiration competition where you can win a trip to Italy!  In the big box was a small box of gnocchi.  For those of you not familiar with gnocchi it is basically an Italian dumpling made out of flour and potato.

But for me gnocchi brings back some fun childhood memories.  Growing up in Wisconsin my very English blooded father started an Italian gnocchi company and named it Mrs. O’Leary’s.  Don’t ask me why he named it an Irish name but he did.  I’m sure he had a good reason. Maybe it is the fact that there is potato in it and Ireland is famous for it’s potatoes!?

On the weekends we would head down to the little rented space that was Mrs. O’Leary’s gnocchi factory and make gnocchi.  We sold it in the neighborhood grocery stores.  I grew up in a very Italian town.  I guess they didn’t mind the Irish name.

I don’t think I have had gnocchi since I lived in Wisconsin over 30 years ago so I decided that would be the first item I used from the box.

You cook gnocchi just like any other pasta – in a pot of hot boiling water.  It doesn’t take long to cook and you know it is done when it floats to the surface of the water.

You can use them just like they are when you remove them from the water if you want a nice soft little dumpling.  For my roasted tomato, pesto and sausage gnocchi with toasted walnuts I prefer my dumpling with a little bit of a crisp outer surface so I pan fried mine in a little butter to give it a nice crispy outside.

I browned up a pound of Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage.  I only used half of it in the recipe and put the rest of it in the freezer to make my favorite soup – Tortellini and Sausage Soup.

I added about 2 Tbsp of pesto in with the gnocchi to give it a nice light covering and then added in the sausage.

To go on top of the gnocchi I put together 2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup pesto and 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar and simmered it together for about 30 minutes  – smells so good.  The roasted tomatoes and balsamic vinegar gives it a dark, rich flavor.

While this was simmering I chopped up a 1/2 cup of walnuts and drizzled them with a bit of olive oil and toasted them in my oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.  Watch them closely so they don’t burn.  Give them a shake or two part way through.

Plate up your gnocchi and then cover it with your simmering sauce,  a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and then top it off with some toasted walnuts.

My husband had never had gnocchi before and I don’t think he had ever heard of it.  I guess in Idaho they don’t eat their potatoes in the form of gnocchi!!  He was a little confused by the whole thing.

Gnocchi is a fun change from pasta.  This sauce could definitely be used on any form of pasta and be just as delicious but the crispy outer edge of the pan fried gnocchi and the soft inside makes for a fun eating experience.

Gnocchi can be found in the same aisle as the pasta, either with the dry pasta or in the refrigerator section with the fresh pasta.

Bring out the Irish Italian in you and try gnocchi!

You too have the opportunity to win a trip to Italy (will you take me with if you win please!?) courtesy of Johnsonville.  All you have to do is upload a photo of one of your favorite Italian Sausage recipes and a description of the recipe for a chance to win!  Check out their Facebook page for details.

Roasted Tomato,Pesto and Sausage Gnocchi with Toasted Walnuts
  • 1 1 lb. box of gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ lb. Johnsonville mild Italian sausage, browned
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • ½ C walnuts, chopped
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 14 oz. cans of diced, fire roasted tomatoes
  • ¼ C pesto
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ C walnuts, chopped
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  1. Cook gnocchi in boiling water according to directions on box. Drain
  2. Place in frying pan and add 2 Tbsp of pesto to coat.
  3. Brown sausage and add in with gnocchi and pesto
  1. In a pan simmer tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and pesto for 30 minutes.
Toasted Nuts
  1. Toast in a 400 degree oven for about 4 minutes or until they begin to brown.
  2. Watch carefully and shake the tray half way through.
To serve top the sausage/gnocchi mixture with sauce, some grated Parmesan cheese and toasted nuts.

Leigh Anne
Hi – I’m Leigh Anne! I have been a homebased mom for 30 years since my first baby boy was born! I love working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority. I blog about everything I enjoy – creating treats and meals in my kitchen, spending time in my garden, entertaining and party planning, reading, self improvement and tips and ideas on style and fashion.
Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne

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  1. says

    Oh…we LOVE gnocchi around here! I’ve made it from scratch and it’s great to know there is a quality ready made product available! You have a mouth watering recipe and gorgeous photos ~ thanks for sharing!

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