Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream

Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream

In Italy, gnocchi doesn’t require potatoes. They can be made from regular pasta flour, or cheese. In fact, pretty much anything that can be rolled into a lump and served like pasta/dumplings can be gnocchi. In the United States, however, gnocchi is usually assumed to be made mostly from potatoes, though you’ll see sweet potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi every once in a while.

When it comes to potato gnocchi, there’s a great debate between those who insist on adding eggs to the dough, and those who insist that eggless gnocchi is the best. Begin vegan, this is a problem easily solved. No eggs! There, that was easy, right?

What’s really nice about this is that your vegan gnocchi is just the same as a lot of traditional gnocchis out there. While I love adapting recipes to be vegan, it’s really nice to make time-tested dishes that have always been vegan. Gnocchi is one of those dishes. Don’t let anyone make you put eggs in your gnocchi!

The downside is that eggless gnochhi can be a bit more fussy than the egged version. But don’t despair! I did a bunch of research, and I think I have a solid recipe here that will minimize if not eliminate any problems. These tips will be detailed in the recipe below.

Thyme VinaigretteI decided to serve this with two easy sauces. If I’m going to the effort of making fresh pasta, I want sauces that compliment and showcase the pasta–nothing too thick or too heavy that would hide it or mask the flavor of fresh gnocchi. First I made a thyme vinaigrette, but vinaigrette is too strong of a word. It’s simply fresh thyme leaves, mashed in a mortar and pestle with some salt, olive oil, and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar. It’s not nearly as tart as you might expect with a title like “vinaigrette”. It really lets the fresh time flavor stand out, and shows off your beautiful gnocchi.

To cut the thyme vinaigrette, I made a simple cashew cream sauce with a hint of lemon. It has a light sweetness and richness that really matches nicely. If you have a high-speed blender (like a Vita-Mix) you’ll have no problems blending the cashews into a smooth sauce. I’m not sure how a regular blender will fare. You could try powdering the nuts in a spice grinder before adding them to your blender, and straining the cream afterwards if it’s still lumpy. It might work fine, though!

Alright, are you ready to make gnocchi? And PS – this recipe is soy free!

Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream
Serves 2-3

For Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 Scant Cup Bread Flour*
(No salt!)

For Thyme Vinaigrette
2 Tbs Fresh Thyme, leaves only
1-2 Pinches Salt, to taste
4 Tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp White Wine Vinegar

For Lemon Cashew Cream
1 Cup Water
1 1/4 Cups Roasted, Salted Cashews (or raw)
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/2-1 tsp Lemon Juice

*I call for bread flour because of the high-gluten content. This will help the pasta set up while it’s cooking a little better than regular flour would.

Game Plan: The first thing you’re going to do is get the potatoes in the oven. Baked potatoes will be drier than boiled, so even though it takes longer, it makes for better gnocchi. While they’re baking, prepare both sauces, get your workstation ready, and put a large pot of salty water on to boil. (It’s important that you salt the water and not the dough; this will help keep the gnocchi firm. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water–salt in the dough would make your gnocchi a little mushy). Now you’ll be ready to cook and plate the gnocchi as soon as you’re finished shaping them.

For your workstation, you’ll need the following: 1 knife (a paring knife is ideal), a fork or a gnocchi board, a large plate lightly dusted with flour (for your shaped gnocchi), and a large, flat surface for rolling out your pasta. A potato ricer (or a food mill) is ideal for ricing the potatoes, but a box grater or even just a fork will suffice.

You want to rice your potatoes as soon as possible when they come out of the oven. The hotter the potato, the more steam comes off when you rice it, which reduces the moisture content of the gnocchi. The dryer the gnocchi, the less flour you need, which leads to the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious gnocchi. Use a kitchen towel to hold the potato, unless you feel like burning your fingers!

Near your pot of boiling water, place a bowl with 1/2 of the vinaigrette in the bottom. When the gnocchi are finished cooking, you’ll scoop them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place them directly in this bowl and toss to coat. Then you can plate them and drizzle them with the cream sauce before they cool. Got it?

Preheat oven to 400º F. Stab your potatoes with a fork and wrap them in foil. Bake in a small dish for about 60 minutes, or until tender all the way through.

Thyme LeavesMeanwhile, prepare your sauces. Strip the thyme leaves off their stems into a mortar. Add a pinch or two of salt and grind with the pestle until a rough paste is formed. Add oil and vinegar and mix again. Don’t worry if it’s emulsified, it just needs to be mixed. Taste and adjust salt or vinegar as needed. Set aside.

Place all the ingredients for the cashew cream in a blender and blend on high until thick and smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed (this should be slightly sweet and not as salty as the vinaigrette) and set aside.

Making the Gnocchi
Peeling Cooked Potatoes

As soon as the potates come out of the oven, remove the foil and then peel them. The photo shows me using a vegetable peeler, but I quickly switched to scraping the skin off with the back of a knife. Much easier.

Ricing Potatoes

Put the hot potatoes through a ricer as soon as you can. The hotter the potatoes are during this step, the better the gnocchi will be. Rice them over a wide, flat surface to maximize contact with the air to help them dry out better. You can also grate them or shred them with a fork.

Riced Potato

Let the potatoes cool/dry for 10-15 minutes. During this time, make sure you have everything in place you’ll need for shaping, cooking, dressing, and plating the gnocchi. Once they’re shaped you want to be able to cook them and serve them as quickly as possible (unless you’ll be freezing the cooked gnocchi for later).

Gnocchi Dough

Gather your cooled potatoes into a flat disc and sprinkle about 1/2 the flour over it.

Gnocchi Dough

Work the dough with your hands, adding more flour if needed. You probably won’t need the whole cup of flour. I had about three tablespoons leftover. If in doubt, use less as opposed to more.

Gnocchi Dough

Work your dough until just combined. Do not overwork it! It should be soft, not sticky or crumbly. You’re not even going to really knead it, just mix it together. You must shape the dough immediately.

Forming Gnocchi

My favorite part! Roll some of the dough out into a long snake, about as thick as your tumb. Cut the snake into little “pillows” and dust them with flour. To shape, simply roll one of the pillows down a ridged gnocchi board (or the tines of a fork!). The gnocchi should curl around your thumb. Once side will be ridged, and the other side will have an indent in it. This helps to catch the sauce.


Place the shaped gnocchi on a plate that has been dusted with flour. At this point you should cook the gnocchi immediately. I tried freezing the raw shaped gnocchi and it was a disaster! You must at least partially cook the gnocchi at this point or all your hard work will be ruined.

Cooking and Serving the Gnocchi
Gently place the gnocchi in to salted, boiling water. After a minute or two, the gnocchi will float to the surface. About 30 seconds after they begin floating, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water, draining them well.

Place the cooked gnocchi into a large bowl that has 1/2 of the vinaigrette in the bottom. Toss the gnocchi to coat. Drizzle your dinner plates with the other half of the vinaigrette and some of the cream sauce. Pile the gnocchi on the plates and drizzle more cream sauce on top. Garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme and serve immediately.

Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream


  1. stidmama

    I am so excited to try this one — my family loves gnocchi, and the store-bought ones are too expensive on our budget. And the sauces look great, too!

  2. Sharon

    hi! i read your blog a lot. i saw this recipe and wanted to share mine with you as well! i do a vegan sweet potato gnocchi using oat flour (oat flour doesn’t work too well with white potatos however- they turn to mush when you cook them!). thought this recipe might interest you :) thanks for a great blog!

  3. Jessica D

    Just a slight note on the part where you say that in Italy gnocchi don’t necessarily need to be made with potatoes… I’m from Genoa (Genova) where gnocchi al pesto is among the most traditional, regional meals, and there’s no way gnocchi in Genova are ever made with anything more than potatoes and flour (gnocchi di casa).

    But I believe different regions in Italy (such as Rome style gnocchi with semolina flour for example) have adopted varietals of gnocchi which are made with eggs and water and other goodies just as regular pastas are made. I believe it’s later in cuisine history that all those also cool, but very different varietals of gnocchi emerged through chef’s creative experiements… such as sweet potato gnocchi et al.

    Thank you for a totally awesome blog, which I never miss reading. Peace!

  4. Ginny

    Looks amazing! I’m not vegan and yet I’m with the anti-egg side! Egg ways them down too much! I can not wait to try your sauces! Yummy!

  5. Mike

    “It’s simply fresh time leaves, mashed in a mortar and pestle with some salt, olive oil, and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar.” (fifth paragraph)
    nice typo ;)

  6. Ricki

    I can’t even begin to express how delicious this looks. . . I am a lifelong gnocchi fan and have tried countless times (without success) to make them myself. I am going to follow your instructions (must buy a ricer) and see if the curse can’t be broken!

  7. Mel

    That looks really beautiful.

    I usually make gnocchi with a mix of plain flour, semolina and potatoes, but will definitely try it with a high gluten flour now. I also recently found a recipe for a topping that included diced roasted eggplant and a simple tomato sauce – so good!

  8. tess

    Soaking nuts in water is the best way to make them easy to blend. You can soak them in cold water in the fridge overnight, or soak them in hot water for half-an-hour. Since the cashew sauce calls for 1 cup of water, just soak, then blend!

  9. miss mess

    here’s a tip for peeling cooked potatoes(squash, etc) – before boiling or baking, lightly score the skin – using the tippy tip of a sharp knife,make an “x” at each end of the potato.

    then, connect each “x” by running the knife from the top to the bottom four times.

    after you take the potatoes out of the oven, the skin will easily peel off in four big pieces.

  10. C

    Oh!! That looks so good! I am terribly allergic to cashews though, do you think it could work with pine nuts? :)

  11. Ali

    Great recipe ;) ! Handmade gnocchi have always been a must in my family…and actually, we’ve always supported the vegan version (as opposed to many other Italians, especially in the region where I come from, Emilia Romagna, who use eggs for their gnocchi)… I totally agree with you, potatoes and flour is all you need to have good gnocchi! Sometimes we make them with semolina flour, just for a change… and I suggest the pumpkin version too, if you haven’t tried yet… I love it ;)

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  13. Mandy

    I haven’t had much luck boiling my gnocchi in the past. Maybe this one will work better for me when I get to try it. They look great!

  14. Zlamushka

    Yum, you have truly the most beautfilu vegan blog I have seen out there. Your presentation is alway so authentic, the taste tops the “real” one.

  15. Jen (Modern Beet)

    I recently acquired a food mill for the express purpose of making gnocchi, but have of course used it for everything but that! Your recipe looks great, and the end result is beautiful.

    I’m eager to try the lemon cashew cream too; I had the most delicious nut cheese not too long ago at a great vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, and it’s been on the brain ever since!

  16. Bev

    My ricer did fine but when gI put them in the boiling water it was a disaster . They tasted really bad. Yours looked good ming were very bland

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  18. aTxVegn

    I’ve never made my own pasta, and you make it seem easy. The vinaigrette sounds perfect for the potato gnocchi.

    Although I’m not a Trekkie, I enjoyed your Star Trek food post, esp. the part about making the wrap “authentic.”

  19. Rachel

    This looks amazing! I am definitely making this after finals are over, as a celebration! Love your blog, by the way…the pictures are amazing, and your food always sounds great.

  20. joey

    This looks incredible! The flavors sound delicious, the gnocchi looks perfect, and your photos are gorgeous. I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian but I love your blog :) I will be back!

  21. stidmama

    We made this!!! They tasted great, and went pretty well. Substituted spelt flour (I don’t tolerate wheat well) so they were a little softer than I think is intended. Might roll them in extra flour before shaping with the fork next time to see if it helps them hold up a bit.

    Loved the vinaigrette, the cashew cream wasn’t as big a hit (we have two teens) — I think perhaps we should have added salt since we used the raw cashews.

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  23. Wheeler

    This is the second gnocchi recipe I’ve found today – that must be a sign that I should make it! This sounds amazing, especially those sauces. Thanks for the accompanying pics!

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  25. cdecocina

    I made this yesterday…but I varied the recipe a little. I used butter squash for the gnocchis, and the vinaigrette with romarin. The cashew cream was incredibly good, a success. The overall result was really good. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Karen

    I made this last night, and it was awesome! Thanks.

    I can see all kinds of uses for the cashew cream. (I’d seen this before but was skeptical of how it would turn out — I was wrong; it was great. Smooth, creamy, and delicious).

    Any progress on your cookbook? I’d love to get one.

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  28. Zach

    I tried copying your recipe tonight and it came out absolutely awful. I don’t think it’s the fault of the recipe but just my cooking skills. The gnocchi came out like play dough. The cashew sauce was pretty good, however. Maybe I will try again in the future.

  29. Yaz

    I made the thyme vinaigrette and the cashew cream and served it with homemade spinach pasta and it was fabulous! Thank you! The photography on your blog is just incredible!!

  30. Andrea from Nigeria

    I have to say that I’m so HAPPY with the way your recipes turn out. Often, I’ll swipe a recipe off the internet and end up with poor results. Your foos IS YUMMY!

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  32. Jessica

    My 2 year old helped me make this today. She placed the potatoes in the pan, counted how many peels came off the lemon to make the zest (11), and helped me juice the lemon. Still, I couldn’t get her to eat the finished dish. Happily, my husband and I gobbled it up. I served the gnocchi with collard greens and loved the combination of greens and cashew cream. Yum!

    BTW, I took tess and miss mess’ advice, and I soaked the cashews (still had to strain the cashew cream) and scored the potatoes. Great tips!

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