7 Easy Ways To Turn Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi Into A Delicious, Anti-Inflammatory Dinner
It's no secret that the healthy food world is obsessed with Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi. If you make them the right way (here's the secret!), they're the perfect quick, gluten-free dinner to satisfy any pasta craving. Cauliflower is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods around, but combined with research-backed inflammation-fighting foods like cardamom1, sweet potato, kale, and extra-virgin olive oil2, it becomes one of the healthiest dinners around. Plus, now Trader Joe's has added a kale variety, which you can swap in to boost the health benefits of these meals even more.
With that in mind, we created seven anti-inflammatory pasta sauces to jazz up an easy 10-minute dinner.
Cardamom Basil Lime Pesto
This recipe takes classic pesto and turns it into a bright, vaguely Middle Eastern–inspired dish, perfect for when you're in the doldrums of winter. Plus, the lime zest and juice contain skin-boosting vitamin C to brighten any seasonal dullness. Just add a handful of basil, 3 cloves of garlic, lime juice and zest, a pinch of salt, a pinch of ground cardamom, and a handful of pistachios to a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process, drizzling in olive oil until a sauce forms, until smooth with some texture. Pan-fry the gnocchi until crispy using no water, then toss with the sauce and serve immediately.
This one works with any hearty seasonal green (think collards or Swiss chard)—just wash, tear the leafy parts from the stem, and rip into bite-size pieces. You want to use more than you think; it'll wilt down quite a bit. Smash a few cloves of garlic, remove the skins, and add to a large skillet with a glug of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, then add a generous pinch of fine-grain sea salt, the kale, and the cauliflower gnocchi. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted and gnocchi is golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic (its flavor will have fully permeated by now), top with red pepper flakes, and serve.
Restaurant-style Classic Marinara
There are two secrets to making restaurant-level classic red sauce at home (without slaving over a hot stove for hours): starting with a high-quality jarred sauce, and finishing with olive oil. Celebrities and food experts from Ina Garten to Jenny Rosentrach swear by Rao's Homemade, which doesn't contain any sugar or funky additives, and I agree—it has a bright, fresh tomato flavor that assuages any guilt about not going homemade. Pan-fry your gnocchi using no water, then toss with some of the tomato sauce to coat. Serve, and top with secret ingredient two: a drizzle of high-quality olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is used similarly to salt in many Italian dishes to finish and enliven existing flavors rather than add a strong flavor of its own. With classic tomato sauce, it does just that, giving it that "can't-put-your-finger-on-it" restaurant quality. Just make sure it's a high-quality oil (you'll want vegetal notes and a bit of burn when you sip it straight)—I like Lucini and California Olive Ranch, which you can find at most grocery stores (including Costco!).
Harissa and Chickpeas
This one's easy—prepare your gnocchi as if you were following the restaurant-style marinara sauce instructions, but swap in North African harissa paste for a spicy change for your taste buds and add some protein-packed chickpeas for a dash of blood-sugar balance. Originating from Tunisia, harissa is a pepper-based sauce that's becoming increasingly common in the United States, and for good reason. Piquant, bold, and utterly addictive, it'll become a new staple. Different types of harissa have different levels of spice and amounts of liquid, so always taste before adding to your gnocchi—if it's too spicy, add some plain tomato paste to calm it down, and if it needs more liquid, add water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it out (I love New York Shuk, which has the most balanced, authentic spice profile of any harissa I've tried). Pan-fry the gnocchi with rinsed, drained chickpeas in high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, then toss with the harissa, a final drizzle of the oil, and salt to taste.
Sweet Potato Sage
The perfect sauce to eat when you're cozied up on a chilly fall or winter day, this one bursts with seasonal flavors. To make it, peel and chop a sweet potato into ¾-inch cubes. Melt a few tablespoons of grass-fed ghee in a large skillet, then add the sweet potato, gnocchi, and 5 or 6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are falling apart slightly, the sage is crispy, and the gnocchi is browned. Toss to combine well and serve immediately.
Crispy Broccoli and Lemon
Rough chop about the same amount of broccoli as the amount of gnocchi you're preparing until each piece is about one-quarter of the size of the gnocchi (stems and all!). Warm avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high, then add the broccoli, a generous pinch of fine-grain sea salt, and the gnocchi. Saute until both the broccoli and gnocchi are golden brown and crispy, then top with lemon zest and juice. Finish with a final drizzle of olive oil and additional salt to taste.
If you're really looking to load up on those healthy, mitochondria-supporting fats, this is the sauce for you. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process 1 avocado, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, a handful of soft herbs of your choice (basil, cilantro, and parsley all work well), and a generous pinch of salt until smooth. Pan-fry the gnocchi using no water; when they're golden brown and crispy, toss with the sauce. Finish with red pepper flakes and some fresh-ground black pepper.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.