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No-Float Cauliflower Gnocchi with Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto on a white plate with a fork

No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi & Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

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I’m amazed by the deliciousness of this No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi & Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto! It’s so easy to make compared to traditional potato gnocchi. Hey, don’t get it twisted — I still love traditional potato gnocchi. I also love this cauliflower gnocchi because it’s both easy and delicious. This recipe can be made with frozen riced cauliflower or fresh or frozen cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower Gnocchi & Kale-Basil Pesto is a great warm-weather recipe

I love this recipe when I don’t want to use the oven because it’s too hot or because my flacker crackers are already in the oven. The fresh, bright Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto is very summery. Although this gnocchi is slightly less fluffy than traditional potato gnocchi, especially when made gluten-free, it still has ease and lightness — it just says summertime. I know. Summer is still a few weeks away, but it’s been getting blast-the-window-A/C hot here in Denver.

No Baking, No Floating?

In this recipe, the cauliflower rice or the fresh or frozen cauliflower florets are boiled instead of baked as you would potatoes for potato gnocchi.

Instead of boiling this cauliflower gnocchi until it floats like potato gnocchi, it is steamed with some water in the pan and then covered to cook the flour while pan-searing.

Freeze Buddy

I usually make this the night before and then pan-sear it the next day. Since this gnocchi is a little soft, freezing it before cooking it can help keep it from sticking to the pan when you cook it.

Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

This pesto is zesty and lemony. It’s so lemony that if you taste it right out of the food processor you might make a sour-pucker face. This isn’t one of those dance around in the kitchen eating it by the spoonful kinds of sauces like the Vegan Garlic Alfredo. Yet magically, once you toss it with this cauliflower gnocchi, it’s very flavorful and there is no sour-pucker face.

There are lots of sauce & serving options

You can eat the cauliflower gnocchi with whatever sauce you want — it doesn’t have to be the Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto. I get it. At first glance, this post seems very health-forward. Cauliflower instead of potatoes? Kale in the pesto? Don’t scare yourself out of an easy, ah-mazing meal just because it sounds healthy. This is super tasty.

Here are some other great pairings:

And don’t forget the 5-Minute Garlic Hemp Seed Parm a.k.a. Garlic Shake! I put this on everything, including this Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto.

Do you want to make potato gnocchi?

For a traditional potato gnocchi recipe, click here. To make a fabulous Google Chef adapted Kale & Brussels recipe using potato gnocchi, click here.

Ingredient Notes

Salt

Riced cauliflower is often pre-salted. Check the ingredients on your frozen cauliflower rice or florets; if it contains salt, use only 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a single batch and only 1 teaspoon for a double batch. You can always taste the dough after it’s been processed, decide on the salt level then, and process with more salt if desired.

Using raw or frozen cauliflower florets

The instructions are the same as if you are using riced cauliflower. When using fresh cauliflower I recommend 1 teaspoon of salt for a single batch and 2 teaspoons of salt for a double batch. You may want more salt as noted above since riced cauliflower is often pre-salted, but fresh and frozen are not usually pre-salted.

Use 5 cups of raw or frozen florets for a single batch and 10 cups for a double batch.  

Make It A Double

I recommend making a double batch of this. You can always leave half of it frozen to enjoy later. When you squeeze out the cauliflower, do so in batches to ensure you get as much water out as possible.

Dividing the cauliflower to wring it out in batches for a double batch
Dividing the cauliflower to wring it out in batches for a double batch

I have a 10 cup food processor and I can mix the entire double batch all at once. When I make a double batch it doesn’t form a big clump. Possibly because there is less room in the food processor for a clump to form. I use a spatula to drop balls of the sticky dough onto my floured workspace and make the gnocchi as written. 

A double batch of riced cauliflower gnocchi ready for the freezer
A double batch of cauliflower gnocchi ready for the freezer

A single batch of pesto is enough for a double batch of gnocchi.

Here are the measurements for a double batch of gnocchi:  

  • 40 oz. frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1 & 1/3 cup flour, plus more for the dusting the gnocchi & workspace
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons salt (depending on whether your cauliflower is pre-salted)

Let’s make No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi with Kale-Basil Pesto

Ingredients for No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi
Ingredients for No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi

Boil the cauliflower

Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add frozen riced cauliflower or fresh or frozen cauliflower florets and cook for 6-8 minutes, lowering to med-high, boiling until tender.

Boiling the cauliflower rice
Boiling the cauliflower rice

Drain using a colander lined with a non-fuzzy towel. You can also use cheesecloth or a nut milk bag in place of the non-fuzzy towel.

Wring out that cauliflower

Once the drained cauliflower has cooled enough to squeeze in the non-fuzzy towel, cheesecloth or nut milk bag, squeeze it.

Using silcone oven-mitts to protect hands from the hot water, optional, you could just wait for it to cool down
Using silicone oven-mitts to protect hands from the hot water, optional. You could just wait for it to cool down

If you don’t want to wait for it to cool you can squeeze it while wearing silicone oven mitts.

Using a nut milk bag to wring out the cauliflower
Using a nut milk bag to wring out the cauliflower

Squeeze and twist the towel, milk bag, or cheesecloth some more. Keep squeezing it and wring it out until you suspect the only water is coming from the towel. Cheesecloth and nut milk bags will be drier.

Squeezed-out cauliflower rice
Squeezed-out cauliflower rice

If you are using a non-fuzzy towel, you can transfer the cauliflower to a second, dry non-fuzzy towel and squeeze again to get it as dry as possible.

Process

Transfer and process the cauliflower in your food processor. Pulse until it crumbles and looks a little like mashed potatoes.

Processing the squeezed cauliflower
Processing the squeezed cauliflower

Add flour and salt.

Flour, salt, and cauliflower added to the food processor
Flour, salt, and cauliflower added to the food processor

Pulse until a soft, sticky dough forms. It will stick together in a big clump, leaving only some of the dough behind. When I make a double batch it doesn’t form a big clump. Possibly because there is less room in the food processor for a clump to form. Flour your workspace with a generous amount of flour.

Processed gnocchi dough after it formed a clump in the food processor
Processed gnocchi dough after it formed a clump in the food processor

Using a spatula or floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and place it onto your floured workspace.

Sticky un-floured cauliflower gnocchi dough
Sticky un-floured cauliflower gnocchi dough

Dust the outside of the sticky ball with flour and cut the ball into 4 sections.

Floured ball of cauliflower gnocchi dough
Floured ball of cauliflower gnocchi dough
ball of riced cauliflower gnocchi dough cut in half
Ball cut in half
Cutting the halves of caulifloer gnocchi dough in half
Cutting the halves in half
Gnocchi dough cut into four sections
Gnocchi dough cut into four sections

Using floured hands, roll the balls into a 3/4″ – 1″ thick rope. It helps to get a lot of flour on the outside of the dough. Then cut the gnocchi ropes into approximately 1″ pieces.

Cauliflower Gnocchi dough in ropes
Cauliflower Gnocchi dough in ropes
Flour-dusted vegan cauliflower gnocchi after cutting with a dough cutter
Flour-dusted cauliflower gnocchi after cutting with a dough cutter

Dust the cut gnocchi with flour and place it in a bag or airtight container in one horizontal layer. Seal and store horizontally in the freezer overnight or up to a month. I usually make this the night before and then pan-sear it the next day. Since this gnocchi is a little soft, freezing it before cooking it can help keep it from sticking to the pan when you cook it.

No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi flat in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag, ready to put in the freezer
No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi flat in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag, ready to put in the freezer

If enjoying this cauliflower gnocchi with Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto, make the pesto before you pan-sear the gnocchi.

Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

Ingredients for Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto
Ingredients for Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

Pulse the kale, basil, olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth.

Pulsing everything for the pesto ― except the nuts
Adding the nuts to the pesto
Adding the nuts to the pesto

Add the nuts and pulse until ground to desired consistency.

Taste and add more salt if desired. Add 1 -2 TBSPs of water if you want to mellow it out. This pesto can be stored for 7 days in the fridge. This makes enough pesto for two batches of cauliflower gnocchi.

Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto in a glass bowl with basil, lemon, garlic and kale
Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

Pan-Searing

Pour 1 TBSP of oil in the pan and coat the pan with the oil. Heat at medium-high heat. Add gnocchi to the pan in one layer. Let it sear for 2 – 3 minutes before flipping. Flip the gnocchi.

Pan-searing the frozen no-float vegan cauliflower gnocchi
Pan-searing and flipped frozen gnocchi

Turn the heat down to medium and pour 1/4 cup water into the pan and cover with a lid. Let steam for 2-3 minutes or until the water has mostly evaporated.

Steaming the gnocchi
Steaming the gnocchi

Uncover and add the remaining TBSP of oil to the pan and toss and sear, trying to get the gnocchi brown on all sides.

Tossing the gnocchi
Tossing the gnocchi
Golden browned cauliflower gnocchi ready for pesto
Golden browned cauliflower gnocchi ready for pesto

Turn the heat off. Take 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of the pesto and toss and stir it with the gnocchi until it is uniformly green and coated.

Adding the pesto to the cauliflower gnocchi in the pan
Adding the pesto
Tossing gnocchi with pesto in the pan
Stirring and tossing gnocchi with pesto in the pan

Serve immediately and enjoy, adding crushed red pepper or 5-Minute Garlic Shake if desired.

No-Float Cauliflower Gnocchi with Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto sprinkled with Hemp Seed Garlic Shake
No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi With Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto
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No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi With Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

This fresh, bright Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto is very summery. Although this gnocchi is slightly little less fluffy than traditional potato gnocchi, especially when made gluten-free, it still has ease and lightness — it just says summertime.
In this recipe, the cauliflower rice, fresh cauliflower, or frozen cauliflower pieces are boiled instead of baking as you would with potatoes, for potato gnocchi.
Instead of boiling this cauliflower gnocchi until it floats, like potato gnocchi, it is steamed with some water in the pan and covered to cook the flour, while pan-searing.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Meal Prep
Cuisine American, California, Italian
Keyword dairy-free, Date Night, decadent, make-ahead, non-dairy, rich, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Freezer time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 627kcal

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Stovetop pan
  • 1 -2 Non-fuzzy towels, cheesecloth or a nut-milk bag
  • Colander
  • Stockpot or pot big enough to boil cauliflower in

Ingredients

No-Float Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 20 oz riced cauliflower or frozen cauliflower florets I buy two 10 oz bags
  • 2/3 cups flour, plus more for the dusting the gnocchi & workspace, for gluten-free use a 1:1 gluten-free flour, almond flour won't work well for this recipe.
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt riced cauliflower is often pre-salted, use a 1/2 teaspoon if your cauliflower is pre-salted. Use a full teaspoon if your cauliflower is not salted.

For Pan-Searing

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 TBSPs non-virgin olive oil, avocado oil or other high smoke point oil

Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto (Makes approximately 1 & 1/2 cups, you only need half for the gnocchi)

  • 1 cup kale de-stemmed and cut into chunks packed
  • 1 cup basil leaves packed
  • 1 clove garlic more to taste
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios unsalted, unroasted or sub other unsalted nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice the juice of one lemon
  • 1 – 2 TBSPs water optional

Instructions

No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add frozen riced cauliflower or fresh or frozen cauliflower florets and cook for 6-8 minutes, lowering to med-high, boiling until tender. Drain using a colander lined with a non-fuzzy towel. You can also use cheesecloth or a nut milk bag in place of the non-fuzzy towel.
  • Once the drained cauliflower has cooled enough to squeeze in the non-fuzzy towel, cheesecloth or nut milk bag, squeeze it. If you don't want to wait for it to cool you can squeeze it while wearing silicone oven mitts. Squeeze and twist the towel, milk bag, or cheesecloth some more. Keep squeezing it and wring it out until you suspect the only water is coming from the towel. Cheesecloth and nut milk bags will be drier. If you are using a non-fuzzy towel, you can transfer the cauliflower to a second, dry non-fuzzy towel and squeeze again to get it as dry as possible.
  • Transfer and process the cauliflower in your food processor. Pulse until it crumbles and looks a little like mashed potatoes. Add flour and salt. Pulse until a soft, sticky dough forms. It will stick together in a big clump, leaving only some of the dough behind. If you are making a double batch it won't form a big clump. Flour your workspace with a generous amount of flour.
  • Using a spatula or floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and place it onto your floured workspace. Dust the outside of the sticky ball with flour and cut the ball into 4 sections. Using floured hands, roll the balls into a 3/4″ – 1″ thick rope. It helps to get a lot of flour on the outside of the dough. Then cut the gnocchi ropes into approximately 1" pieces.
  • Dust the cut gnocchi with flour and place it in a bag or airtight container in one horizontal layer. Seal and store horizontally in the freezer overnight or up to a month. I usually make this the night before and then pan-sear it the next day. Since this gnocchi is a little soft, freezing it before cooking it can help keep it from sticking to the pan when you cook it. If enjoying this cauliflower gnocchi with Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto, make the pesto before you pan-sear the gnocchi.

Lemon Kale-Basil Pesto

  • Pulse the kale, basil, olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Add the nuts and pulse until ground to desired consistency. Taste and add more salt if desired. Add 1 -2 TBSPs of water if you want to mellow it out. This pesto can be stored for 7 days in the fridge. This makes enough pesto for two batches of cauliflower gnocchi.

Pan-Searing

  • Pour 1 TBSP of oil in the pan and coat the pan with the oil. Heat at medium-high heat. Add gnocchi to the pan in one layer. Let it sear for 2 – 3 minutes before flipping. Flip the gnocchi.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and pour 1/4 cup water into the pan and cover with a lid. Let steam for 2-3 minutes or until the water has mostly evaporated. Uncover and add the remaining TBSP of oil to the pan and toss and sear, trying to get the gnocchi brown on all sides.
  • Turn the heat off. Take 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of the pesto and toss and stir it with the gnocchi until it is uniformly green and coated. Serve immediately and enjoy, adding crushed red pepper or 5-Minute Garlic Shake if desired.

Notes

Nutrition information is approximate. The Nutrition Information has been calculated from half of the pesto recipe, about 3/4 cup, and the full gnocchi recipe as 2 servings of Kale-Basil Pesto served with the gnocchi. You might only use 1/2 cup pesto per batch of gnocchi. 

Serving Suggestion

Top with 5-Minute Garlic Hemp Seed Parm a.k.a. Garlic Shake and/or crushed red pepper.

Make It A Double

I recommend making a double batch of this. You can always leave half of it frozen to enjoy later. When you squeeze out the cauliflower, do so in batches to ensure you get as much water out as possible. I have a 10 cup food processor and I can mix the entire double batch all at once. I then make two balls of dough, flour my workspace and cut each ball into four pieces and make the gnocchi as written. 

Here are the measurements for a double batch:  

40 oz. frozen riced cauliflower
1 & 1/3 cup flour, plus more for the dusting the gnocchi & workspace
1 – 2 teaspoons salt

Salt

Riced cauliflower is often pre-salted. Check the ingredients on your frozen cauliflower, if it contains salt use only 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a single batch and only 1 teaspoon for a double batch. Use less salt if desired, you can always taste the dough after it’s been processed and decide on the salt level then. 

Using raw or frozen cauliflower florets

The instructions are the same as if you are using riced cauliflower. You may want more salt as noted above since riced cauliflower is often pre-salted, but fresh and frozen are not usually pre-salted. I recommend 1 teaspoon of salt for a single batch and 2 teaspoons of salt for a double batch when using un-salted cauliflower. 
Use 5 cups of raw or frozen florets for a single batch and 10 cups for a double batch. 
www.planttestkitchen.com

Nutrition

Calories: 627kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 818mg | Potassium: 1015mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 873IU | Vitamin C: 150mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 4mg

For your shopping convenience, this post contains affiliate links.

Recipe adapted from Lindsay at Pinch of Yum.

Did you make No-Float Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi With Kale-Basil Pesto?

How was it? Are you gonna make it again? Did you eat this gnocchi with Kale-Basil Pesto or another sauce? I want details! Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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