One-Skillet Baked Chicken Parm Cauliflower Gnocchi

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My personal favorite time to give food as a gift is when friends have a baby. I never truly appreciated just how hungry and exhausted new parents are until I had my own baby nine months ago, and I devoured whatever casserole, frittata, or baked pasta came through the door. 

My husband George and I live in California, across the country from most of our friends and family, but our east coast loved ones still found creative ways to get food into our hungry, sleep-deprived bodies. My friend Mary Pell overnighted a box of her famous chocolate chip cookies the day our son was born, so that they’d be waiting on us when we got home from the hospital. My friend Martha lives in New York, but found out which restaurants in our town delivered, and sent us cheeseburgers and pie one evening. Shane and Brit live down in San Diego, but encouraged us to get out of the house for an early dinner with the baby, and then called the restaurant where we were eating and picked up the tab.  

Recently, a friend of ours in Carmel has been in and out of the hospital, and I’ve dropped off a few meals. He and his wife stick to a rather healthy diet, but I also knew that during this time, what they needed was hearty, warming comfort food. 

George and I are absolutely obsessed with the frozen cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s—they have a super clean, minimal ingredient list, and let you eat an overflowing bowl of gnocchi without feeling stuffed. Using that as a jumping off point, I created this chicken parmesan meets pasta bake with the intention of delivering a lean, healthful protein (ground chicken), a hearty starch (the cauliflower gnocchi), and a whole lot of comfort (a fabulous red sauce and plenty of cheese). 

Since creating this dish for our friends, we’ve since made it several times at home for ourselves. George and I love cooking together after we’ve put the baby to bed, but this recipe is great for busy days when we know we won’t be able to cook together, but will still need a delicious, nourishing meal. 

During the day, I can throw this recipe together while feeding the baby his breakfast or lunch, and place the whole skillet in the refrigerator for George to retrieve in the evening. He can bake it while I’m putting the baby to sleep, and by the time I come out of the nursery, a bubbling, cheesy skillet of chicken parm gnocchi will be waiting for me. The best part? The only dirty dishes are one knife, a cutting board, a spatula, and a skillet.

ONE-SKILLET BAKED CHICKEN PARM GNOCCHI

Servings 2 hungry eaters

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp oregano (or Italian seasoning)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi, frozen
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (this is 1/2 of a standard mozzarella ball)
  • Optional: chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to broil.
  • Warm oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds.
  • Add ground chicken, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cooking, stirring frequently and using a spatula to break up the meat, until chicken is cooked through and any liquid has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes, gnocchi, and tomato paste and raise heat to medium-high. Cook until meat sauce is thickened and no longer watery, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in parmesan. Smooth out the gnocchi and meat sauce. Tear up the mozzarella with your hands and place it on top of the gnocchi and meat sauce.
  • Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.
  • Garnish with parmesan and parsley and enjoy!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp oregano (or Italian seasoning)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi, frozen
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (this is 1/2 of a standard mozzarella ball)
  • Optional: chopped parsley for garnish

Notes

Helpful hints:
For the mozzarella, you can use the hard kind, but what I want you to use is a fresh ball of mozzarella, the kind that often comes packed in water. You could also use burrata if you’re feelin’ fancy.
Wanna make this even easier? Cook the chicken, stir in 1/2 of a 24-ounce jar of your favorite pasta sauce, the gnocchi, and the parmesan, add mozzarella on top, and broil. 4 ingredients!
Don’t have a Trader Joe’s? Regular dried gnocchi work here too, just make sure they’re completely tender before transferring the skillet to the oven.
Author: Caroline Chambers

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