This comforting cauliflower gnocchi recipe is a one skillet meal with ground pork, crushed tomatoes, spinach and melted mozzarella cheese.
Baked on the stove top then finished under the broiler in under 30 minutes.
I’m not sure how long Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi has been out at this point but I can assure you I was one of the original fanatics.
Eagerly, I made the 40+ minute trip to the closest store with excitement only to get to the freezer section and see the space below the sign for the gnocchi completely empty.
I’d hound the sales associates asking when the next delivery was coming only to be discouraged that it wasn’t for another week.
This same saga went on for weeks. Months even.
Until finally, one day, the the stars aligned.
I showed up and the freezer was stocked high with bags of the beloved cauliflower gnocchi.
At something like $3.15 a bag, I hoarded them.
I think I bought 8 that day which lasted me long enough that when I finally ran out, the massive hype had faded.
And the gnocchi has been in stock every visit since.
So even though I just recently shared my first cauliflower gnocchi recipe on here with this alternative way to prepare it – air fried cauliflower gnocchi, I’m an OG when it comes to the famous pillowy, comforting low-carb creation.
Usually, dinners with cauliflower gnocchi end up being a skillet mashup of some sort of ground meat, copious amounts of vegetables and either pesto (love it with this zucchini pesto) or a jarred marinara.
I’m sharing something similar today with this skillet baked cauliflower gnocchi but a bit more “put together” if you will.
It’s also got some major comfort food vibes channeling something along the lines of deconstructed lasagna or a hearty spaghetti and meatballs kind of thing.
You’ll be hard pressed to find an easier, more satisfying and cozy meal that doesn’t break the bank calorically (or nutritionally) made in such little time.
INGREDIENTS FOR THIS BAKED CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI SKILLET
- Olive oil
- Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi (or alternate brand equivalent – I know Whole Foods makes one that’s vacuum sealed not frozen)
- ground pork
- red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- baby spinach
- crushed tomatoes (or favorite jarred marinara sauce)
- mozzarella (sub a plant-based/vegan mozzarella for a dairy-free recipe)
- fresh basil
HOW TO MAKE THIS CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI RECIPE
Just like in my air fryer cauliflower gnocchi, the key step in avoiding “mushy” gnocchi is to crisp them up first.
To a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cauliflower gnocchi and brown on each side. Transfer the gnocchi to a plate and set aside.
Add a bit more olive oil to the skillet. Place the ground pork in the pan and cook, breaking up with a spatula until browned.
Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir into the pork for an additional minute until fragrant.
Add the spinach, stirring until wilted and combined with the pork mixture.
Pour in the tomatoes and place the gnocchi back into the skillet, nestling them into the sauce a bit.
Top with the sliced mozzarella cheese and transfer the skillet to the broiler for about 5 minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the dish is bubbly.
Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve.
IS CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI HEALTHY?
There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about traditional gnocchi (or sweet potato gnocchi) as it’s mainly made of potatoes.
If you’re looking for a lower-carb option however, cauliflower gnocchi fits the bill.
An entire bag of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi is 53g carbohydrates. A serving (which they classify as 1 cup) is only 22g.
Usually, the two of us end up splitting a bag for dinner when mixed with other ingredients.
That portion makes for a satisfying meal coming in around 26-27g carbohydrates each from the cauliflower gnocchi.
At only 140 calories a serving, cauliflower gnocchi is a much “lighter” option than most traditional gnocchi and pasta.
The ingredient list is simply: cauliflower, cassava, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Not bad at all and both vegan and gluten-free friendly.
It’s not something we eat multiple times a week or even weekly but it’s definitely a “healthier” go to I grab when craving the satisfaction from a big bowl of comfort food.
WAYS TO CUSTOMIZE THE DISH
While the beauty of this easy cauliflower gnocchi recipe is the simplicity of ingredients and quick cooking time, there are a few ways to make the dish your own.
Switch up the meat – ground turkey, beef, bison or chicken could all be substituted for the ground pork. Or, use a blend. Italian sausage is another good option instead of ground pork since it’s already pre-seasoned. Venison is another great option to actually mix in with the pork. I use the same blend when making venison meatballs and it’s a great combination!
Use another green – I chose spinach because the eight plants in my garden are all bolting right now and had to be used. Any leafy green will work though. Kale, dandelion greens and Swiss chard are all good alternatives.
Get creative with the cheese – I chose a vegan mozzarella for my version since I don’t eat dairy any longer. So any dairy-free cheese alternative will work with this dish. Ricotta or burrata are good substitutes and even some grated parmesan at the end too!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI SKILLET
Usually with hearty, pasta meals like this cauliflower gnocchi recipe, a big salad is the best type of side dish.
Since you’ll have the oven on to broil the cauliflower gnocchi skillet at the end, you can also always make some roasted vegetables.
You could also always serve the gnocchi dish on top of some spiralized zucchini (like I do with my cheddar stuffed turkey zucchini meatballs) or some riced cauliflower for even more cauliflower goodness!
If you love meat sauce (where are all my bolognese lovers?) for that stick to your ribs heartiness and you love pasta for its comforting carby goodness, I promise you will love this recipe.
It might be one of my favorite ways to enjoy a beloved bag of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. And after sharing this recipe, I’m now out of my stash.
Time to make a trip and stock up again. There will be plenty more of this dish in our future!
LOOKING FOR SIMILAR RECIPES?
My Italian tomato pasta soup is very similar to this cauliflower gnocchi dish just with pasta in place of gnocchi.
Pasta checca with burrata is a summery pasta dish along the same lines as this recipe with a lighter vibe.
And trapanese pesto pasta uses fresh tomatoes, basil and nuts. It’s a vegetarian dish that still elicits a sense of heartiness from the nuts.
For a traditional gnocchi dish, this butternut white bean gnocchi with sage is a must make for fall!
Skillet Baked Cauliflower Gnocchi
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 bag Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, or other brand
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 cups packed baby spinach
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes, or favorite jarred marinara sauce
- 4 ounces mozzarella, sliced (use vegan mozzarella for dairy-free)
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Preheat broiler to high.
- Place 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cauliflower gnocchi and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove the gnocchi to a plate and set aside.
- Pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the skillet. Add the pork and cook until browned, breaking up with a spatula as it cooks.
- Add the garlic, salt, pepper and oregano, stir to combine and cook an additional minute until fragrant.
- Add the baby spinach to the skillet, stir into the pork mixture and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the crushed tomatoes into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi back into the skillet and gently stir to combine all ingredients.
- Place the slices of mozzarella on top of the skillet and broil for about 5 minutes until cheese starts to melt.
- Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.