Pasta is the food I choose when someone asks me that question about being stuck on an island for the rest of your life. I love pasta, and gnocchi is like pasta’s hot cousin. It’s delicious, carb-loaded, but slightly less accessible. But not anymore— well, not if you live near a Trader Joe’s anyway.Jump to Recipe
While I do not recommend Trader Joe’s frozen gnocchi (whether cauliflower or otherwise), I can assure you that this shelf friendly version found with the dry pastas is a dream. And it cooks in 3 minutes in boiling water.
The lemon and peas really brighten this gnocchi dish, making it light and fresh in the warm months, while the comfort factor keeps it totally crave-able in the cold months.
The flavor bomb in the sauce comes from browning the chicken. All that delicious brown fond on the bottom of the pan (yep, it has a name!) is what gives you those deep savory roasted meat flavors that make your mouth sing. Then the ricotta swoops in at the end and makes everything creamy- dreamy. Everybody will want you to make this again—even you, because it comes together pretty darn fast.
Lemon & Chicken Gnocchi with Creamy Ricotta Sauce
A quick italian meal that will satisfy your carb cravings.
- 2-4 Tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts trimmed of fat
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 lemon zested, and half juiced (about 2 Tbsp)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (preferably whole milk)
- 17.6 oz package of Trader Joe's gnocchi
- 10 oz package of Trader Joe's fresh English peas (or 1 1/2 cups frozen peas)
- salt and pepper (of course!)
- fresh chives minced, for garnish
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a rimmed skillet. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in batches and set aside on a clean plate. While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil (use about 1 Tbsp of salt).
*see below for helpful chicken cooking tips
Once you have cooked and removed all the chicken, allow it to cool and rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile turn the skillet heat to LOW and add the minced garlic, dried rosemary, unsalted butter and a pinch of salt. Stir, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing), until garlic is fragrant, butter is melted, and sauce has turned brown from all the bits you've incorporated into the sauce.
To the rapidly boiling water, add gnocchi and return it to a boil as quickly as possible. When you see the first gnocchi float to the top, add the fresh peas and cook for 2 more minutes. By now just about all the gnocchi should be floating. If you want, you can taste a pea to make sure they are tender. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the salty gnocchi water and reserve. Drain the gnocchi and peas.
While the gnocchi and peas cook, pull apart the chicken into bite size pieces or dice it.
Add the ricotta, lemon zest, another pinch of salt, and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to the skillet of butter and garlic. As soon as the gnocchi and peas have been drained, add them, along with the shredded chicken, and fold everything together. If the sauce seems too thick you can drizzle in a little of the reserved gnocchi cooking water. Taste the dish and add more salt if the flavor isn't popping! Add more freshly cracked pepper if you want a bit more bite.
Sprinkle with fresh chives or green onions, and garnish with a wedge of lemon. Garlic bread and a salad would be a great addition to this too!
*Chicken Cooking Tips* To ensure properly cooked chicken you can cut the chicken breasts, dividing them into sizes that have the same relative thickness. The top (wider) half of the chicken breast is usually thicker than the bottom, so divide there, for instance. Breaking your chicken into smaller sections will help it cook faster, give you more brown (flavorful) surface area, and keep your chicken from becoming dried out because you can cook the thinner parts for less time and the thicker parts longer. Place the chicken in the preheated skillet with oil, and wait, do not touch it until you begin to see opaque white chicken coming up the side of the meat (about 4 minutes). Then you can flip (but if it is sticking to the pan, wait another minute or two, it will release easily when it is properly browned). Once flipped, wait another 4 minutes or so. Depending on the thickness of your chicken it may be done, or it may need to be turned to cook on its end. Cooking chicken by “feel” is the best method. If you feel a piece a raw chicken and compare the “squish” factor to a piece of cooked chicken you will see the difference. And anything slightly under cooked will have its own recognizable squish factor. The more you feel your chicken, the better you will get at knowing when it is done without having to cut it open and without over cooking it.
If the fond (brown bits) on the bottom of your pan begins to turn black and burn, lower your heat to medium. A little black won’t affect the taste, but if it really starts to smell burnt, that will ruin your dish. To avoid this, continue adding oil as you brown the chicken to avoid the pan drying out. You can also pull it off the heat for a minute to cool it down.