Gnocchi is the ultimate Italian comfort food. These little bite-sized dumplings are relatively easier and faster to make by hand compared to traditional pasta. It’s a great option for when you’re craving homemade pasta, but don’t want to spend all day making it.
I toss the freshly boiled dumplings in a super creamy sun-dried tomato sauce. The rich sauce, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi, plus fresh herbs that bring everything together is a rustic feast made any day of the week.
Why You Should Try Cauliflower Gnocchi
Cauliflower gnocchi has hit food superstar status, and it all seems to have started when Trader Joes launched its version—those frozen bags of pasta are flying off the shelves!
After some test kitchen experimenting, I developed this homemade copycat cauliflower gnocchi recipe that rivals Trader Joe's in texture and flavor.
- Get the Recipe! Cauliflower Gnocchi (Trader Joe's Copycat!)
What makes this rendition so appealing is that it mimics traditional potato gnocchi, giving a tender chew that then dissolves with ease. It’s also gluten-free, packs in low-carb cruciferous produce, and is paleo- and Whole30-friendly.
This is done by combining steamed pureed cauliflower florets, cassava flour, potato starch, salt, and olive oil. The result is an easy dough with just a hint of cauliflower flavor in the finished gnocchi.
For this recipe, boil the gnocchi until they float, and if you’d like, pan fry for extra texture. If you’re skeptical, give it a try. If anything, you’ll have fun making the recipe.
Creamy sun-dried tomato sauce
Now that people are eating cauliflower gnocchi and loving it, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Using sun-dried tomatoes, half-and-half, vegetable stock, and fresh herbs allow you to make a rich and creamy sauce in just a few minutes. It’s all about coaxing out the natural flavors in the ingredients.
The drying process concentrates the sweet and tart flavors of tomatoes at their peak ripeness. This means you just need a small amount to pack a lot of flavor.
I recommend using julienned sun-dried tomatoes that have been packed in oil. They can be used right away without rehydrating, and the texture is much plumper. Make sure to drain off the excess oil, or if you’re feeling fancy, substitute it for the olive oil in the recipe.
Vegetable broth adds depth to the sauce and balances the creaminess of the milk and cream. When incorporating the half-and-half into the sauce, gradually ramp up the heat in the pan so that the liquid can reduce.
Avoid turning the heat up to a full boil because this increases the chances for the dairy in the sauce to curdle. Maintain a simmer and stir until the sauce thickens. When ready, it should lightly coat the back of a spoon and cling to the gnocchi.
Ways to Finish Your Dish
The two ways to put the finishing touches on an Italian dish are to add fresh herbs and, of course, cheese.
Here, oregano and basil add a hint of licorice, mint, and pepperiness to the sauce. If you only have dried herbs on hand, that’s not a problem! Simply substitute the fresh for dried by using about a 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil. Dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavor, so start with less and increase to taste.
You can never have enough cheese on a pasta plate. I often default to Parmesan, but Pecorino Romano is edging in. This is an aged sheep’s milk cheese with a hard yet easy-to-grate texture. It adds an extra bit of saltiness, and sharp nutty flavor to finish of the dish.
What to serve alongside gnocchi
Besides a big glass of dry red wine, there are a lot of additional courses to add to the menu that pairs well with gnocchi. A Caesar salad made with a light and citrusy anchovy vinaigrette tops the list as a starter.
Sautéed chicken marsala or cacciatore is a nice main course to serve with the creamy gnocchi. For meat lovers, a seared piece of filet mignon or even rack of lamb also compliments the decadence of the pasta.
More Great Ways to Serve Gnocchi!
Can't get enough gnocchi? Swap gnocchi for the pasta in any of these great recipes:
- Pasta with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter, and Sage
- Creamy Ziti Florentine
- Cheesy Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
- Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- Pasta Puttanesca
Cauliflower Gnocchi with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
You can double this recipe! When making the cauliflower, be sure you squeeze out the water; you should get about 2 1/2 cups of squeezed cauliflower to turn into gnocchi. The rest of the ingredients should double easily.
- 1 batch cauliflower gnocchi (or regular gnocchi), homemade or store-bought
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained
- 1/2 cup unsalted vegetable stock
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, plus more for garnish (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped basil, plus more for garnish ( or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
- Black pepper for garnish
- 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil
While this comes to a boil, make the sauce.
Make the sauce
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add in shallots and garlic, sauté until fragrant and shallots are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the sun-dried tomatoes, and sauté for 30 seconds. Pour in the vegetable stock, half-and-half, and sea salt. Stir to combine.
Turn heat to medium-high. Simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Cook the gnocchi
Your water should now be boiling. Carefully add the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface, 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain the gnocchi and transfer directly to the skillet with the sauce.
Stir the cooked gnocchi, oregano, and basil into the sauce. If needed, continue to simmer and the sauce for a few additional minutes until it coats the gnocchi.
Season gnocchi with black pepper, and top with the remaining sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Store the gnocchi in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the fridge, reheating in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between.