If you’re like me and consider Trader Joe’s the Holy Grail of experimental specialty foods, you’ve probably tried their Cauliflower Gnocchi. And you were probably disappointed by the results — that is, if you followed the cooking instructions on the bag.

After consulting Google — and realizing that other random people on the Internet shared my struggle with some weird, goopy, gelatinous mess of an excuse for gnocchi but found the strength to find a solution— I decided to give Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi a second chance. I’m glad that I did.

This recipe is for a vegan pesto gnocchi with chik’n a la Trader Joe’s — one I’ve made at least a few times within the last month. Is it that good? Or am I just a creature of habit?

Paulina Leang / Daily Nexus

Prep time: 15-20 minutes


Makes 2-3 servings



1 bag of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

½ tub of Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto

Garlic-infused olive oil

Chicken-less tenders of your choice* (I like Lightlife Smart Tenders Savory Chik’n, but they contain egg whites and gluten!)



1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I like the Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes at Trader Joe’s, they add more color.)



  1. Heat one to two tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Hover your hand over the pan. If you can feel the heat, lay out the gnocchi on a single layer in the pan.
  3. Add your tenders around the edges of the pan.
  4. Flip the gnocchi after four minutes and fry the other side for another four minutes.
  5. Check your chik’n to see if it has browned, then flip to cook the other side.
  6. Optional: If you want to add tomatoes, now is the perfect time to put them in the pan. Do not overcook!
  7. Recommended: Shake the gnocchi around the pan and fry for an additional four minutes to add more of a crispy texture.
  8. Once everything is nice and golden, you’re ready to add the pesto. Remove pan from heat, and toss pesto directly in the pan — coating the gnocchi and chik’n.


Make it fancy:

  1. Serve a simple arugula salad on the side. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. I also like sprinkling some nutritional yeast on top, too.
  2. Add a serving of French-styled cashew cheese. I like the Treeline Treenut Cheeses; the herbs and garlic flavor one is delish.
  3. Pair with a glass of white wine. Sauvignon Blanc if you have it, or Albarino if you want to try something new.


This recipe, as prepared, will last two to three days in the fridge — if you haven’t devoured it all in one sitting (which I’m definitely guilty of). Also, there are endless options for ingredients you could add to this recipe and make it your own. Have fun with it.

Buon appetito!