THIS Is The Secret To Making Trader Joe's Famous Cauliflower Gnocchi Taste Way Better

plate of gnocchi pasta

Image by KEMA Food Culture / Stocksy

Trader Joe's debuted their cauliflower gnocchi in the spring, and healthy Italian food lovers everywhere rejoiced at the recreation of the pasta favorite. The little cauliflower nuggets, found in the freezer section, have fairly decent bona fides, too. They're gluten-free and contain just five ingredients: cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt.

There's just one problem: Everyone is cooking them wrong. The back of the bag suggests three cooking methods: Microwaving the bag from frozen, boiling the frozen gnocchi in water, or sautéing the gnocchi in a pan with ¼ cup of water. Each option results in gummy, gluey gnocchi that are less "That's amore!" and more "What a horror!" (I tried, OK?).

The secret to gnocchi that's perfectly light, with a buttery, crisp exterior that cedes to a fluffy center? Following the pan sauté instructions—without adding the water. Start with the frozen gnocchi and heat it in a bit of high-heat oil (avocado, ghee, olive, or coconut) for about 6 to 8 minutes, but ignore the package instructions to add water. That keeps the starch in the cassava from going gummy, and results in drool-worthy gnocchi every single time.

Do they taste exactly like "real" gnocchi? Of course not. The cauliflower is especially present in the first bite or two, although it dissipates as you keep eating and your taste buds adjust. Tossed with flavor-packed sauce (I've been loving pesto; sweet potato, sage, and ghee; and a simple sugar-free, store-bought marinara topped with crunchy fennel seeds), the sulfuric cauliflower-ness fades even more to the background, so much so that it's become a weeknight staple in my house (and I still love and eat gluten-filled, traditional pasta).

One other hot tip: Each Trader Joe's receives a select amount of cauliflower gnocchi daily—my local store gets 60 bags—and when they're gone, they're gone. Go early in the day and stock up so you can have it ready in your freezer whenever you're ready to say, "Ciao, Italia!"

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