Ask me what my favorite thing to cook is and I'll always have the same answer: homemade gnocchi. Sophomore year of college, everyone had to complete an internship at the school I attended, and I was lucky enough to be able to complete mine at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. I worked as a line cook at the resort's steakhouse, the Ocean Room. While I was there I had the opportunity to hop around to almost all of the stations: Garde Manger, Fish Entremet, Sushi Station, I even tackled the lead line cook title towards the end of my time there!
It was such an incredible experience. I was living in Charleston with two of my best friends for 6 months. All of our free time was spent at the beach, running through pluff mud, exploring downtown, making egg sandwiches for dinner every night, running to Taco Bell at 2am, or just staying up late and realizing how lucky we were to be where we were in life.
One of my favorite things I was able to make while I was at The Ocean Room was homemade ricotta gnocchi. We would pair it with a homemade arugula pesto, baby vegetables, and bay scallops. It truly was such a decadent dish while also still being light. I was CONSTANTLY making Gnocchi dough! Rolling it out, cutting it, cooking it, and putting together orders. I could literally never keep up. As hard as it was to keep up with this dish, it was one of my very favorites to make. I became so good at it by the end of my time there, that a few of my coworkers started calling me the “Gnocchi Queen.” A nickname that I was (and still am) quite proud of.
Now, I do realize that homemade gnocchi is not an easy weeknight meal. I certainly won’t be whipping it up after a long day at work! There’s plenty of prepackaged gnocchi out there, and when I discovered Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi I was SO EXCITED. I’m always trying to stay as healthy as I can, so finding this product from Trader Joe’s made me a very happy girl.
When I was shopping through Trader Joe’s, I knew I wanted to make a version of the dish I made back when I was at Kiawah. I make this dish with baby rainbow carrots, spring peas, Trader Joe’s kale pesto, and shredded chicken thighs. I hardly consider it cooking since everything is already done for you, straight from Trader Joe’s! One stop shop, you can be in and out of the grocery store in 10 minutes and have all the ingredients for this very delicious easy weeknight meal!
You can really get as creative as you want with this dish. Put whatever types of veggies you like in there. I opted for chicken because I usually always have some in the fridge or the freezer, but seafood would of course be equally as delicious!
This is just my take on a few solid Trader Joe’s ingredients. A very easy weeknight meal that really hits the spot. I hope you enjoy!
Chicken & Cauliflower Gnocchi: Trader Joe’s Style
1 bag Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup green peas
1/2 bag Trader Joe’s rainbow carrots
3/4 cup to 1 cup Trader Joe’s Kale Cashew Basil Pesto
3-4 chicken thighs
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, for topping
Salt and Pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to a nonstick pan and heat on medium high heat. Saute the chicken for 6-7 minutes a side until cooked through. Set aside and when cool enough, shred chicken with two forks.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cut carrots in oblique chunks (or however you want). Once water is boiling, add carrots and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Once carrots are tender, shock them in an ice bath. (This helps brighten and set the color, and they become super tender!)
In the same pan as you cooked your chicken, add a few teaspoons of olive oil. Add frozen cauliflower gnocchi and saute for about 5 minutes until almost defrosted. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover with a lid. Steam until all the water is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add a few more teaspoons of olive oil and saute gnocchi until they are browned.
Once gnocchi is cooked through, add peas, carrots, and shredded chicken. Stir together for a few minutes until all ingredients are heated through. Mix in your kale pesto, you can add more or less as needed. Season with salt and pepper and divide into two bowls. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Yum!