With only 3 ingredients you can make these easy, healthy and delicious Grain-Free Cauliflower Gnocchi to pair with your favourite sauce, like this Brown Butter and Crispy Sage combination. If you didn’t know any better, you’d never guess they were Paleo-friendly and Gluten-Free.
What You Need to Make Cauliflower Gnocchi
Believe it or not, these gnocchi are made with just 3 ingredients, not counting a pinch of salt. They couldn’t be easier to make!
- Cauliflower: 1 large head of cauliflower will be enough to make around 2 full servings of these grain-free gnocchi.
- Cassava Flour: I like to use cassava flour as an alternative to both regular wheat flour and potato flour because it’s entirely grain-free and gluten-free. It also has slightly spongy texture that works well for making gnocchi, which should be rather pillowy and soft in the middle.
- Egg: I like to fold one large egg into the gnocchi dough. It works as a binder and adds a touch of colour.
What are Cauliflower Gnocchi?
Although technically a dumpling, gnocchi are usually tossed with a sauce and enjoyed in the same way as pasta. Think of these cauliflower gnocchi as a modern adaptation of traditional Italian potato gnocchi. Instead of using starchy potatoes and wheat flour, this recipe calls for using cauliflower and cassava flour to keep things entirely grain-free and gluten-free. The idea is to keep the same look and texture of traditional gnocchi, but to make it a more suitable option for people following grain-free or gluten-free diets.
How to Make Gnocchi from Scratch
To make the cauliflower gnocchi you’ll need to first steam the cauliflower florets before blending it to a smooth and creamy purée. Then it’s as easy as folding it with some cassava flour and egg with a pinch of salt to form a soft ball of dough. The dough is then portioned out to make it easier to roll into ropes and cut into small dumplings called gnocchi.
One of the best parts of this recipe is that the cauliflower gnocchi can be served with a wide variety of sauces. I love this simple paring of Brown Butter and Crispy Sage, but you can also toss the grain-free cauliflower gnocchi in a homemade Basil Pesto, Short Rib Ragù or your favourite marinara.
- Prepare the Cauliflower: Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower head, break it down into small florets and steam it until completely tender.
- Drain and Cool: Once the cauliflower is steamed, transfer it to a nut milk bag or clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible. This step is crucial to ensure the gnocchi dough isn’t too wet.
- Blend It Up: Add the steamed cauliflower to a food processor and blend until puréed. It should be smooth but not completely liquid.
- Mix the Ingredients: On a board or in a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, egg, and cassava flour with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix with your hands or a bench scraper until a dough forms. You can adjust with flour as needed to achieve the right consistency.
- Form Gnocchi: Divide the dough into smaller portions and roll them into long ropes. Cut these ropes into bite-sized pieces. If desired, you can give them some ridges by lightly pressing on them with the tines of a fork.
- Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface. Let them boil a few more minutes until cooked through.
- Sauté: For a crispy exterior, try sautéing the boiled gnocchi in a pan with a bit of olive oil, butter and sage until they turn golden brown.
- Serve: Cauliflower gnocchi can also be served with your favourite sauce, whether it’s a classic marinara, ragù, or pesto. Top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, some flakey sea salt and a crack of black pepper for added flavour.
Equipment You’ll Need
- Food Processor: I love this 3.5-cup food processor for small tasks in the kitchen. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t take up a lot of space. However, you may notice it’s hard to purée an entire head of cauliflower in it so you can either blend in batches or grab something more high-powered.
- Bench Scraper: I like to use a bench scraper to fold the gnocchi dough because it allows me to pull up any sticky bits off the board. You can also do this with your hands. Word to the wise, check your local dollar store for bench scrapers! You don’t need an expensive one and they all work the same.
- Stock Pot with Pasta Insert: The easiest way to cook the cauliflower is in a large stockpot with a pasta insert. The insert is intended for boiling and draining large pots of pasta, but if you fill the pot with water to just below the insert, it also works as a steamer basket.
- Nut Milk Bag: These specialty nut milk bags are intended for making homemade nut milk, but they’re also great for squeezing out all the moisture from the cauliflower after steaming. They’re much stronger than a cheese cloth and can be washed and reused. You can also squeeze the cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel.
Grain-Free Cauliflower Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage – Paleo, Gluten-Free
- 1 large head cauliflower – cut into florets leaves discarded
- 1 cup cassava flour plus extra as needed
- 1 large egg
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 sprigs fresh sage leaves
- Flakey salt for garnish
- Freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
- Freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to taste
- Add 1 inch of water to a large stock pot lined with a steamer basket and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the basket, cover with a lid and steam until fork-tender, 12-15 minutes. Let the cauliflower cool to the tough, transfer to a nut milk bag set over a bowl and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer the drained cauliflower to a food processor and blend until completely smooth. You may need to wipe down the sides several times.
- Place the cassava flour on a large cutting board or clean countertop and make a deep well in the middle. Add the blended cauliflower, egg, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Using your hands or a bench scraper, continuously fold the mixture over onto itself from all sides until all of the flour is incorporated and a ball of dough forms. It should be smooth, soft and hold its shape when pressed with your finger. If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of cassava flour and repeat.
- Divide the dough into four equal-sized pieces and roll into individual balls. Roll each ball of dough back and forth into a ¾-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into individual gnocchi around 1-inch long and dust with a little bit of cassava flour to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the water and carefully add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the surface, around 2 minutes. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until the gnocchi are cooked through yet still a little firm and springy.
- Meanwhile, preheat a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and heat until the butter has melted and turned golden in colour. Add the sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, around 2 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and add them to the pan. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the gnocchi turn golden brown and slightly crispy all over, around 4 minutes total.
- Transfer the gnocchi to individual serving bowls. Season with flakey salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.