Van life recipe: homemade gnocchi and pesto

Updated: May 11

I am going to start this first van life recipe post by stating the proviso that I am most definitely not a Michelin starred chef, and my food will not be looking picture perfect 😂

But we both enjoy cooking and trying lots of new recipes. We are both vegetarian, and we also try and buy as little plastic as possible, so making meals from scratch is usually easier than trying to find something that's both vegetarian and plastic free.

This homemade gnocchi recipe is super easy and only uses 2 ingredients! It only requires a hob to boil water and toast pine nuts, so is a great meal to make in a van (albeit with a bit of messy washing up required!). If you have a blender it will make the process a bit quicker, but it works just as well without, and I like quite a chunky, hand-chopped pesto!

Serves: 2

Prep time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Difficulty: Medium


For the gnocchi:

• 500g new potatoes

• 180g plain white flour (add more if needed)

For the pesto:

• 2 cloves of garlic

• 50g pine nuts (walnuts also work)

• 50g vegetarian parmesan (mature gouda is a good alternative!)

• 100ml olive oil

• Handful of fresh basil leaves

• Lemon juice

• Salt & pepper to season


1. Fill the kettle, and once boiled, add to a saucepan with the potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are super soft and easy to mash. You can peel the potatoes before you boil them if you want to, but we left the skins on and we think the gnocchi is pretty tasty this way!

2. Measure out your flour, and set aside.

3. While the potatoes are boiling, add the pine nuts to a pan on a low heat and lightly toast them.

4. Once the pine nuts are nicely toasted, finely chop them along with the garlic cloves and basil. If you have a blender, you can use this to get a much finer pesto, but we quite like it chunky! A pestle and mortar also works well (but possibly a bit excessive in a van!)

5. Add the olive oil, parmesan, and about 1/4 of the juice from the lemon to the other pesto ingredients, and mix. This can now be set aside until the gnocchi is ready.

6. Your potatoes should now be nice and soft. Decant them into a bowl (save the hot water for later) and give them a good mashing until they're lump free!

7. Add the flour bit by bit to the mashed potato, and start to combine it with your hands (be careful not to burn yourself, as the potato will still be quite hot! I am speaking from experience 🙈). Once you have combined all of the flour with the potato, you should have a nice, soft dough. If it feels too sticky, add a bit more flour until it's easy to work.

8. Start to make little balls with the dough, roughly 2cm across. You can make these flat and use a fork to give them ridges, but we just rolled them into little balls. Get creative if you fancy! As you're doing this, make sure your pan of water is turned on again, and top it up if you need to.

9. Once you have made all of your little balls, it's time to cook them! Drop them all into your pan of boiling water. You'll know they're cooked when they all start rising to the surface of the water in the pan. This should only take around 5 minutes.

10. Pour your pesto over your gnocchi and voila, homemade gnocchi and pesto!

If you give this recipe a go, let us know how you get on, and tag us in any photos you post on Instagram!


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