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The Best Way to Cook Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi: Gnocchi Carbonara Recipe

Crispy store bought cauliflower gnocchi in a dreamy carbonara sauce – perfect for carb(onara) loading this fall
Posted October 18, 2019 by Stephanie

Is there anything better than a bowl of carbonara? Creamy, bacon-y, eggy carbs will forever be my friends. Carbonara is absolutely one of my favorite dishes ever and if I could carbonara everything I would. Carbonara gnocchi is especially delicious because pillowy soft dumplings and bacon and cheese and eggs, oh yes! I did lighten the whole thing up a bit though by using my go-to low carb filling treat, Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. Remember when it was difficult to find Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi?! It was crazy popular and they always sold out. Now it’s always in stock. Maybe it’s not popular anymore but I still love it so much.

The best way to cook it is still pan frying, straight from the bag, frozen. When you do that, the lil dumplings are crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle. I’ve heard some people say they don’t like cauliflower gnocchi because it’s gummy, but I’ve never had that problem. Just make sure you don’t cook it too long, just enough to brown.

When we were coming up with this recipe, I had a hard time figuring out how to make it saucy enough. Real carbonara uses starchy pasta water to help make a super glossy sauce out of eggs and parmesan, but because pan-frying cauliflower gnocchi is the best way to cook it, I wouldn’t have any starchy pasta water. I tried just tossing the hot gnocchi with eggs and parm, but it didn’t come together into a real carbonara sauce; I wanted a saucy silky carbonara.

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It was Mike who came up with the genius idea of a sacrificial gnocchi: a gnocchi boiled in water to make the water starchy and thick, just like pasta water. I tried it and it worked amazingly! Just pop a gnocchi into a little pot of water and let it boil away, getting all starchy. Use that water to thin out and make your sauce, just the way you would use pasta water to make pasta alla carbonara.

Why You Should Make This

  • It hits all the right notes: saucy, comforting, rich yet light.
  • It comes together super quickly and it’s relatively low calorie and low carb.
  • It’s perfect for those cozy fall vibes.

Key Steps:

  1. Don’t over cook the gnocchi otherwise it’ll get gummy. You just want it to be lightly brown on the outside and warmed through. The gnocchi will cook/warm through more in the sauce.
  2. Make sure your egg yolks are at room temp. If they’re too cold, the hot gnocchi water won’t be able to “cook” the yolks.
  3. Use high quality parmesan and grate your own if you can – sometimes pre-grated parm doesn’t melt as well and you won’t get a smooth sauce.Happy carb(onara) loading!

eggs and cheese and carbs,
xoxo steph

Cauliflower Gnocchi Carbonara Recipe

Crispy store bought cauliflower gnocchi in a dreamy carbonara sauce – perfect for carb(onara) loading, yet keeping it light and low carb.
Serves 2
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg yolks at room temp
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan plus extra to finish
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
  • 3 oz pancetta cut into cubes
  • 1 package caulflower gnocchi frozen

Instructions

  • Whisk together the egg yolks, parmesan, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside. It will be a very thick paste.

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  • Bring a very small pot of water to boil over high heat and add 1 cauliflower gnocchi. Let simmer over medium low heat – we want the water to be starchy to help the carbonara sauce thicken.

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  • Crisp the pancetta a large sauté pan, over medium heat, stirring, until the fat renders and the pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a small bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.

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  • Add the gnocchi, frozen from the bag, to the hot rendered fat and fry until very lightly golden brown and crispy, flipping once, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

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  • Add 1 tablespoon of the hot gnocchi water into the bowl with the eggs and cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add the reserved gnocchi and toss immediately, until all the gnocchi are coated and the cheese starts to melt.

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  • Add the gnocchi along with the sauce, back into the pan over low heat and loosen the sauce with more cauliflower water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time until saucy and glossy.

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  • Top the gnocchi with the pancetta and an extra dusting of parmesan. Enjoy immediately.

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Notes

You can sub bacon if you like, it’ll just have a smokier, different flavor than carbonara. Use 2-4 strips, chopped.

Comments

  1. Ingrid says:

    Amazing! Will try!

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