Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi Is Even Better If You Ignore The Instructions

gnocchi with crisp edges
gnocchi with crisp edges - Dmitrii Ivanov/Shutterstock

Cauliflower gnocchi is among Trader Joe's famously praised products worth buying for a low-carb, gluten-free pasta dish that aptly mimics the flavor of traditional potato gnocchi recipes. While most fans agree that Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi is worth the purchase, another consensus is that you should ignore the cooking instructions on the back of the package.

All recommended cooking methods assert that you can start with frozen gnocchi. Trader Joe's gives three different cooking options, including microwaving and boiling, but the recommended method is to steam and pan-fry them over the stove. Pan-frying sounds the most promising because it uses a dry cooking method to create crispy edges and a chewy interior. However, steaming the gnocchi first and then sauteing them in oil sabotages their chances of crisping up.

Trader Joe's doesn't take advantage of the water content frozen gnocchi have to begin with, so its recommended cooking methods result in water-logged, mushy textures. The best way to capitalize on frozen cauliflower gnocchi is with completely dry cooking methods like air frying and roasting. Both of these methods will utilize and eliminate the excess water. The frozen gnocchi will steam as the water rises out of the gnocchi and evaporates, instilling a chewy interior. Once the water evaporates, the dry, hot air blowing around each gnocchi will effectively crisp its edges.

Read more: 30 Absolute Best Snacks From Trader Joe's, Ranked

Cooking Times And Tips For Cauliflower Gnocchi

gnocchi and vegetables on a sheet pan
gnocchi and vegetables on a sheet pan - Debby Lowe/Shutterstock

For the best outcome, turn to your air fryer or oven instead of following Trader Joe's instructions for cooking cauliflower gnocchi. All it takes is spreading a single layer of frozen gnocchi on a baking sheet or in your air fryer basket before roasting them. Despite its name, an air fryer is essentially a smaller, more efficient oven known for creating the textural contrast we love in fried foods. If you're using an air fryer, preheat it to 400 degrees and cook your gnocchi for 14-18 minutes.

Some recipes recommend tossing the gnocchi in olive oil and parmesan cheese before air frying them, but the catch is that you'll need to shake the basket and flip the gnocchi at least three times throughout the cooking process. Another option is to add gnocchi without any oil or additional seasonings to fry at 400 degrees for around eight minutes. Then, when you flip them, you can spray them with olive oil cooking spray before frying them for another eight minutes.

If you're using the oven method, you'll roast them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Since the oven is already on, you can crisp up the gnocchi while simultaneously roasting other vegetables or proteins for a more well-rounded sheet-pan gnocchi dinner. Gnocchi and Brussels sprouts would pair well with a simple brown butter and sage sauce sprinkled with shredded parmesan cheese.

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