Pesto Gnocchi N’ Cheese

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Are you tired of making the same ole’ mac n’ cheese recipe? Are your KIDS tired of the same ole’ mac n’ cheese recipe too?

If so, then you need to try this take on the traditional recipe…Smooth ricotta and fresh nutty pesto mixed together to make a creamy sauce. Now, doesn’t that sound much tastier than the powdered cheese version?! ;-)


This simple three-ingredient meal is so quick and easy to make…just like your good ole’ mac n’ cheese.  It’s a perfect meal to prepare for the entire family and pack in the kid’s lunch boxes for lunch the following day!


(Yields about 1 cup)
1/2 cup gnocchi or other small pasta of choice
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
1 tsp. coarse salt for boiling pasta (if desired)
1 tbsp. homemade pesto
1 tbsp. whole milk ricotta cheese
1-2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, if desired


In a small saucepan bring water to a boil, salt (if desired) then add pasta. Cook according to package instructions.

*TIP: I usually cook mine “al dente” but when preparing for the kids I cook the pasta for a few extra minutes so it is extra soft.

Once the pasta is cooked, scoop out (I usually use a small coffee mug) about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside then drain the pasta. DO NOT RINSE! (Rinsing the pasta washes away all the starch which is what helps the sauce stick to the pasta!).


Reduce the heat to minimum then return pasta to the saucepan and place on the burner. Add the pesto, ricotta and about 1/4 cup of the cooking water and stir until combined and creamy and the water has evaporated.


*If the pasta is too dry add some more cooking water, 1-2 tbs. at a time, until you get the desired consistency.


Garnish with another dollop of pesto (why not?) and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Did I mention you should make MORE than enough for leftovers? Yum!


  • Hubby loves loves gnocci! I must try this recipe for him!!!

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      It’s so easy to make and pesto and ricotta are the easiest “sauce” to “make”…just scoop out with a spoon and mix, lol!