Easy at-home gnocchi that doesn't depress? It's finally happened.

Image: Alice Levitt

Both of my parents were food hoarders. My father had an affection for canned organ meats. My mother's predilections lay firmly in the carbohydrate camp, particularly pasta. Her favorite? Shelf-stable gnocchi. If you have tried really any version of the Italian dumpling not prepared from scratch at home or in a restaurant, you know that this is a terrible, hideous idea. Almost as rank as when my dad used to stink up the house by steaming cauliflower for hours on end.

My entire life, I've known prepared gnocchi to be the antithesis of what the pillowy pasta should be: dense, chewy, sometimes even granular. "But it's from Italy," my mother would say, defending her latest Big Lots score.

I don't know what convinced me to try the cauliflower gnocchi at Whole Foods 365 in Independence Heights. Maybe it was rumors the Trader Joe's version's popularity was so ascendant, the stores can't keep it on shelves. Perhaps it was a recent successful outing making a version of Persian tahdig at home using frozen riced cauliflower.

But purchase it I did, and I did not regret it. Quite the opposite. Though I seldom eat pasta at home, I've now bought the cauliflower gnocchi twice in two weeks.

The dumplings boil up in about two minutes. After that, I need only sear them up in a butter sauce for a pleasant crispness. The result? Something akin to fluffy cauliflower marshmallows. I used lemon to downplay the veggie's natural funk. And I can feel almost virtuous doing so: The pasta is 130 calories per serving, compared to 180 for the store's sweet potato version.

Here's how I prep it:

Alice's Easy Cauliflower Gnocchi

Serves 1

  • 1/3 package Whole Foods cauliflower gnocchi
  • 2 large handfuls chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt to taste

Boil gnocchi according to directions on package. Heat pan to medium high. Melt butter. Add lemon juice, then mix in kale and gnocchi. Cook until kale is wilted and gnocchi is browned to your taste. Serve as a side, or incorporate chopped braised pork or chicken to make it a meal.

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