Now that you have made your own fresh gnocchi, you might be pondering about the best sauce to pair with it. As gnocchi regularly appears on our ever-changing weekly menu, we like to think of ourselves as gnocchi sauce connoisseurs. So, whether you’re vegetarian, meat-lover, or a fan of simple sauces, we have you covered. Starting with the most basic – sage and butter – we will progress through a myriad of possible sauces for gnocchi. The challenge just lies in choosing one!
1. Sage and butter sauce
Emerald gnocchi are the perfect partner to a sage and butter sauce.
Sage-infused butter – or burro e salvia – is a classic combination. Extolled by the Romans for its medicinal properties, it was believed to help with digestion of fat-ladened meats, which as you can imagine were featured frequently at Roman feasts! You can find our simple recipe for sage and butter sauce in our best butter sauces article. Furthermore, you can elevate your sage and butter sauce by browning the butter you pair with it. To make this, simply heat the butter and sage until the butter turns golden-brown and has a nutty aroma. Perfetto!
2. Tomato and basil sauce
This next pairing features another simple, yet delectable sauce for gnocchi: tomato and basil. This classic proves to be a great combination for nearly any pasta shape, including gnocchi. Two of Italy's finest ingredients come together to create something sublime. Its near-rustic simplicity makes it easy and quick to prepare. This simplicity is typical of Italian cooking, where well-paired flavours, short ingredients lists, and simple instructions shine. As there is nowhere to hide in this dish, be sure to pick quality ingredients – they will make your sauce more flavourful and delicious. The fresh basil added to the sauce during cooking teases out the taste of the tomatoes and completes this traditionally Italian sauce. We love this tomato basil sauce recipe as it is quick, easy, and you likely will have all the ingredients on hand. Serve with a scattering of Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy!
3. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a classic dish hailing from Sorrento, which is on the west coast of Italy close to Naples. Gnocchi made in the Sorrentina style are covered in tomato sauce with delicious chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese melted throughout and fresh basil sprinkled on top. Follow this recipe for a complete guide to making gnocchi alla Sorrentina. While this dish is simple and easy to prepare, it is still delicious and decadent!
4. Parmigiano Reggiano and Sage Cream
If you want to match your decadent gnocchi with an equally delicious sauce, look no further than this Parmigiano Reggiano and sage cream. This sauce is simply made with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, sage, and cream. The rich, deep and fruity profile of Parmigiano Reggiano pairs beautifully with the sweet and slightly earthy flavour of fresh sage. If you top it off with more freshly grated cheese, we won’t tell a soul!
5. Basil Pesto
Our next sauce is a classic one - pesto alla genovese, or basil pesto. This one requires a bit of effort as you must grind all the ingredients in a pestle & mortar. You can cheat with a food processor but just keep a close eye on the consistency of your pesto as it is easy to over blend. The key to making excellent pesto is high-quality olive oil – we use Italian extra virgin olive oil – and super fresh basil. In picking basil, we recommend trying to get bunches with smaller leaves as these tend to be fresher and more tender. While different recipes include different cheeses, we’ve opted for a pesto recipe that features both Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino. This combination of cheese really adds depth to the pesto. And be sure to take a look at our video on making basil pesto. You can follow along as our chef Roberta whips up her own batch of this delicious pesto.
6. Pistachio Pesto
Our next sauce selection is also a pesto; however, this time, it is pistachio-based. Although there is still a hint of basil to honour the traditional pesto alla genovese, this pesto is distinct from other types of pesto. We recommend Bronte pistachios, a special type of pistachio grown on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. The mineral-rich soil combined with the baking heat leads these pistachios to have a vibrant green-red colour and distinct flavour. If you don’t have Bronte pistachios, feel free to use whatever you have on hand. However, we do recommend trying these unique pistachios when possible! The pesto is created simply with a pestle & mortar and has a subtle yet incredible flavour. For the full recipe, head to our post on The Perfect Pistachio Pesto Recipe to make it yourself. Buon appetito!
7. Summer courgette and mint pesto
Our courgette and mint pesto is a deliciously light choice for the summertime, when courgette and mint are at their most flavourful. The addition of chilli adds a slight kick which really stands out against the subtle courgette. You can find a really great version of this recipe here. Feel free to add your own chilli to taste. As always, top with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and dig in!
8. Beef and Barolo wine ragù
This decadent beef & Barolo wine ragù, which is commonly featured on our weekly menu, is an incredible pairing for gnocchi. The versatile nature of this ragù makes it a great recipe to have in your back pocket when craving a nice comforting bowl of pasta. We select beef shin when making our ragù as this working muscle, located on the lower part of the leg, contains a high amount of connective tissue which breaks down when slowly braised. Therefore, be sure to leave enough time to allow this ragù to simmer at low temperature, which helps the texture and flavours of this sauce develop. We've even shared Our Signature Beef Shin Ragù Recipe so you can make our version for yourself. Enjoy!
9. Aromatic Duck & Taggiasche Olive Ragù
Our final sauce on this list is a real treat! The combination of savoury and tender duck leg meat with the slightly sweet and nutty Taggiasche olive proves the perfect companion to a nice bowl of gnocchi. Finish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and you’re sure to delight. Similar to the beef & Barolo wine ragù, this sauce benefits from slow cooking for many hours over low heat to meld the flavours and aromatics of the duck with the olives and the other ingredients. This duck and olive ragù is one of our favourites.
How to cook gnocchi perfectly, every time
And to ensure you don’t overcook your freshly made gnocchi, here is our pastai approved method:
- Cook gnocchi in salted, boiling water until they float (generally around 2-3 minutes)
- While the gnocchi cook, place your selected sauce in a pan and heat until steaming, then take off the heat. For an individual serving, we recommend using around 160g of sauce
- Once cooked, transfer the gnocchi to the sauce. Toss gently to coat. Finish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano if desired. Buon appetito!
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