The $3.29 Trader Joe's Dinner Find I've Been Buying for Years
Add a protein and a veg, and you can fool people into thinking it's homemade. Shhh... it's from Trader Joe's and only $3.29.
Growing up in a red-sauce-loving town of Binghamton, N.Y., I was always an outlier. I preferred pastas with a creamy sauce, but Alfredo was too rich and nap-inducing, and often lacked flavor. Aglio e olio was nice and garlicky, but not as filling, and Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe didn’t enter my pasta wheelhouse until later in life.
In my college years, I discovered a pasta with the ultimate creamy, dreamy sauce that packs a punch of complex cheesy flavor and didn’t put me into an immediate coma—as long as I didn’t devour the whole bag in one sitting. Trader Joe’s Gorgonzola Gnocchi ($3.29 for 1 pound) is one of the grocery store’s longest-running frozen meals. It takes five minutes to heat up on the stove—watch the frozen gnocchi plump up as the gorgonzola cream sauce melts around them. It's a delicious budget-Italian-restaurant-quality meal.
As someone who has tried and failed to freeze cream sauces, I don’t know what kind of magic Trader Joe's adds to make the sauce not break, curdle, or get gritty upon reheating. Joe just knows. The gnocchi is toothsome and delightful—it never tastes overcooked.
How I Doctor Up My TJ's Gorgonzola Gnocchi
Trader Joe's Gorgonzola Gnocchi is always in the back of my mind as an easy dinner, which I’ve adapted by mixing in either an entire bag of baby spinach or a bag of frozen broccoli to bulk it up and add in some green veggies. I toss in shredded rotisserie chicken or my favorite Costco chicken skewers, or I add cooked shrimp—it doesn’t get rubbery after it bathes in the gorgonzola sauce. Garlicky, crispy mushrooms are excellent, if you'd like, but that requires additional cooking for me, and the reason I turn to gorgonzola gnocchi is to be as lazy as possible.
I’ve found that if you add other ingredients, you should add about 1/2 cup of milk (whole milk, please not oat!) to thin and spread out the sauce. A little extra gorgonzola or Parmesan wouldn’t hurt either, to make sure it doesn’t come out bland when all that spinach enters the chat. A little extra cheese never hurt anybody.
The bag claims it serves three (with 1-cup servings), but I think it serves one and a half for a main dish without anything added, and bulks up to four to five servings if you add veggies and a protein.