Things you don’t hear every day: cauliflower gnocchi and meatballs.
You hear spaghetti and meatballs all the time but cauliflower gnocchi and meatballs? Pretty new and we should start a trend.
Italians, don’t shoot the messenger (like y’all did with great grandma’s pasta sauce) but I think cauliflower gnocchi and meatballs is a good low-carb alternative and a fairly delicious one!
It’s also really easy to whip up on a weeknight and here at Table for Two, you all know how I feel about quick weeknight meals.
Additionally, I know y’all have been asking for other ways to use cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (sorry if you don’t have one near you) so here’s another option!
If cauliflower gnocchi and meatballs don’t tickle your fancy, I have another cauliflower gnocchi recipe, chicken parmesan gnocchi bake that you might like instead.
How to get your meatballs MOIST, TENDER, and NOT HARD AS A BRICK!
Okay, I recently read something online that I thought I’d try with these meatballs to see if it’d work and holy crap.
These were the most tender and soft meatballs EVER.
Like literally dove the side of my fork into it and it just fell apart.
Here’s what you do: soak breadcrumbs in milk for 10-15 minutes before incorporating into your meat mixture!
I know that sounds so totally gross and it kind of is a gross blob but it really truly helps and attributes to the tender meatballs.
It truly helps it retain its moisture.
ALSO, another important thing is I barely handled the meat.
So I’m sure you’re asking, “then how did you form them into meatballs without barely handling the meat?”
I used a large cookie scoop and gently scooped the meat (without forcibly packing it into the scoop) and put it on wax paper. Repeated until all balls were formed then I took the meatballs and gently threw the meatball back and forth in my hands about 3-4 times to loosely form the meatball.
Using 80/20 ground beef also helps because there’s more fat.
What if I can’t find cauliflower gnocchi?
I feel like there will be alternatives to Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi eventually but if you can’t find cauliflower gnocchi, then regular potato gnocchi is fine.
Can I use any type of marinara sauce?
Highly recommend Rao’s marinara sauce. It’s expensive but it’s pricey for a reason.
It’s SO good and it’s the only marinara sauce I use.
Can I use whole canned tomatoes?
You could but you’d have to heavily season and make your own marinara sauce essentially.
It’s just much easier with jarred marinara.
Can I use another ground meat?
80/20 ground beef is the best but you could try with ground turkey or ground pork.
Is there a way to make this spicy?
Yes! I added crushed red pepper flakes into my meatball mixture and also the sauce.
Do I have to brown the meatballs first?
Always brown/sear meat first! So.much.flavor!!
What can I serve this with?
Roasted vegetables or a salad!
One-skillet recipes that you may like:
- Creamy skillet mushroom chicken
- Fig and rosemary glazed chicken
- Skillet English breakfast
- Ultimate skillet lasagna
Shoutout to Good Housekeeping for featuring this blog post!
Cauliflower Gnocchi and Meatballs
Servings are adjustable but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings.
For the meatballs:
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 medium onion, extremely finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Pinch black pepper
For the rest of the dish:
- 2 cups Rao's marinara sauce, or similar
- 1: 12 ounce bag frozen cauliflower gnocchi
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
- Prepare a large baking sheet covered with wax paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together milk and egg. Pour in the breadcrumbs and stir until breadcrumbs are wet. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, add the ground beef and the remainder of the ingredients for the meatballs. With your hands, gently incorporate ground beef mixture until just combined. Do not overwork.
- Using a large cookie scoop, loosely scoop meatball mixture into individual balls and place onto prepared baking sheet. Continue until all meat mixture is scooped out then gently form meatballs into uniform ball shapes. To keep it from getting touch, instead of roughly forming with your hands, toss the ball gently back and forth between your hands until it's relatively formed then put back on baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Once skillet hot, add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan then add the meatballs to brown on two sides.
- Reduce heat to medium then add the marinara sauce. Let it simmer gently then add in the cauliflower gnocchi. Stir around to coat and incorporate.
- The oven should be done preheating by this point. Cover and put into oven to finish cooking, about 20 minutes.
- Once done cooking, remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and/or fresh parsley/basil on top prior to serving.