As much as I love living abroad, there are definitely a few things I miss about The States. Trader Joe’s is one of those things. The supermarket was pretty much the only place I shopped for a long time, and whenever I hear that they’ve released another trendy product, I kind of wish I could hop on a flight to try it out right away.
Lately, it seems like everyone I follow online is totally obsessed with Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. (It came out a year or so ago, but for some reason, it seems like everyone has jumped on the bandwagon just recently.) And the more they talk about how great it is, the more I wish I could buy it. But since I can’t just yet, I decided to take a crack at making my own version of cauliflower gnocchi. I’ve made regular gnocchi a bunch of times, so I figured it couldn’t be that much more difficult.
And it wasn’t! By using the ingredients listed on the back of the bag, and a bit of guidance from traditional gnocchi recipes, I was able to whip up a pretty solid recreation of the Internet’s new favorite Trader Joe’s product. Of course, I can’t confirm whether my version of cauliflower gnocchi tastes exactly the same. But I can promise you that it’s incredibly delicious and is actually quite easy to make from scratch.
Here’s how you can do it, too.
1. Get your ingredients together.
Before I got started, I called my mom and asked her to buy a bag of the gnocchi so that I could take a look at the ingredients list. I was surprised to find that there were only five ingredients listed: cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.
Cauliflower, olive oil, and salt are all easy ingredients to get, but you may have to go to a speciality grocery store like Whole Foods Market for cassava flour and potato starch. If you aren’t familiar with cassava flour, it’s a byproduct of cassava root, which is a vegetable with a starchy texture similar to potatoes or yams. It’s a great gluten-free alternative for gnocchi because it still gives the dish the gummy, chewy texture that it’s known for.
If, like me, you can’t find cassava anywhere, tapioca starch is a good substitute because it’s extremely similar, easier to find, and also gluten-free. I’m not trying to avoid gluten for any reason in particular, but I stuck with a gluten-free flour only because I wanted my cauliflower gnocchi to taste as close to the Trader Joe’s recipe as possible.
2. Steam, squeeze, and blend the cauliflower.
Fill a pot with two inches of water and bring it to a boil over a medium-high heat. While the pot is heating up, chop one small cauliflower into florets (it doesn’t matter if they’re even because you’re going to blend them later). Transfer them to the pot, cover, and let them cook until fork tender, about five to seven minutes. Strain and let cool.
When the cauliflower is cool enough to touch, transfer it to a food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Place the paste in the center of a dish or cheese cloth and squeeze as much water out as you can. If the paste is too moist, it will never become firm enough to roll out no matter how much flour you use. You should have about a cup of cauliflower when you’re finished squeezing.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and work that dough!
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of potato starch and 1/4 cup of tapioca starch (or cassava flour) and set aside. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt to the cauliflower paste and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir everything together until it becomes tacky and stiff enough to roll out. If it’s still too sticky, add a tablespoon more of each flour until it’s workable.
4. Roll and cut.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Then, using your hands, gently roll each piece of the dough into a long log like you would with Play-Doh, slice it into 1-inch-thick pieces, and press the tip of a fork into the top to form the ridges you often see on gnocchi.
Set the finished gnocchi aside, but be sure to spread them apart. If you throw them all together, like I have in the past, they will stick together and become one giant gnocchi.
5. Cook your fresh gnocchi right away.
I cooked my gnocchi the two ways Trader Joe’s recommends on the back of the bag—sautéed in olive oil and boiled in salted water—and they both tasted great.
To sauté them, set a skillet over medium-high heat, coat the bottom with olive oil, and cook the gnocchi until crispy and browned, about three minutes per side. They were so flavorful when prepared this way that I didn’t even need to add any sauce—I just sprinkled a bit of parsley on top and called it dinner.
If you want to boil the gnocchi, you’ll know they’re ready when they float to the top of the pot. This method produces softer, pillowy gnocchi that are equally delicious with a fancy sauce or a simple sprinkle of cheese and pepper.