Something I have been really trying to make a part of my recipe brainstorming is starting with a Trader Joe’s frozen item (another option here). They create so many great entree and side options that can serve as a solid base for experimentation. So enter the Trader Joe’s Frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi.
Trader Joe’s probably has 3-4 frozen gnocchi options at any given time, but the cauliflower one seems to be a staple. What I really like about frozen gnocchi is that you can throw them in a skillet right away to heat them up. This means you can get a nice saute on them and build them more easily into a cohesive dish.
I wanted a really good side dish that could be both starch and veggie combined. I had some Swiss Chard that we had bought and thought that the creamy gnocchi and bitter chard could be a great pairing. To build up the overall flavor, we used butter, shallot, and garlic plus a little white wine vinegar for some acid.
The end result is a well balanced side dish that only takes one dish and has a bunch of flavor. Don’t be surprised though if you get some color bleed from the chard onto the gnocchi.
So just a little primer on Chard if you aren’t familiar. They are a lot like many other big leaf greens. That is, you don’t eat the stalk and they tend to be a little bitter. So you either need to cut or pull the leaf off the stem and then cook it with some fat and acid to counter balance the bitterness.
Chard can be a bit of an acquired taste, similar to mustard or collard greens. Cooked well the bitterness adds a nice depth, cooked poorly it is just off-putting. We never cooked with it until a year or two ago when Rob had it with something he ordered while we were eating out and loved it.
So the proper cooking, in my opinion at least, is to wilt it in a skillet with that combo of fat and acid. The fat will help create some richness and the acid will counter the bitterness. For me, butter is a good fat for chard (also butter is just good for pretty much everything), its rich and works well with a lot of other flavors. For acid, I like white wine vinegar (and if you can find one with some citrus element its even better).
Trader Joe’s Frozen Gnocchi with Chard
- Skilet or Saute Pan with Lid
- 1 Bag Trader Joe’s Frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 1 Shallot finely diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flake
- 1 Bunch Swiss Chard stalk removed and cut into ~2 inch strips
- 2 Tbs Champagne Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Place the frozen gnocchi and water in a frying pan or saute pan with a lid. Cover and took on medium-low heat for about 6-8 minutes (basically package instructions).
- Add the butter to the pan and stir to combine.
- Hit with salt/pepper and add in the shallot, cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and red pepper flake, stir to combine cook for an additional minute.
- Add in the chard in batches allowing to wilt down a bit before adding more (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
- Once all of the chard is in, add the Champagne vinegar to help wilt and deglaze. Cook for about 1 more minute.