Cacio e Pepe literally means cheese and pepper. A sauce made entirely of cheese and pepper? Sign me up! I tossed this sauce with pillowy gnocchi and bites of chicken, bacon and peas for an indulgent tasting meal that's good for you!
No air fryer? No problem! No gnocchi? No problem! We're here with plenty of subs and alterations that'll fit your kitchen.
Have you tried the infamous #traderjoes cauliflower gnocchi? You can find it in the frozen isle at your local store. It comes in a 12 oz bag which is perfect for 2 servings!
The trick here is to ignore the directions on the package.
The package mentions cooking it in water which will leave you with soggy gnocchi. Instead, we get it nice and crispy on the outside but maintain that pillowy inside in the air fryer! 15 minutes in the air fryer and they are perfect. If you don't have an air fryer, sautéing them in a little olive oil in a pan for about 10 minutes or until brown and cooked through does the trick too.
If you're like me, gnocchi may not be your first choice for this dish. You also may not live near at stocked up Trader Joe's or grocery store.
You could easily sub the gnocchi in this for any pasta.
I would also recommend reserving 1 cup of the pasta water and using that instead of chicken broth! An easy swap that saves you an extra ingredient!
I love peas with pasta.They are such an underrated vegetable, hidden in soups and pot pies, instead of shining like the bright green stars they are. By pairing this with turkey bacon and thinly sliced grilled chicken, you keep fats lower and protein high. Instead we bring in the fat with a melted pad of butter toasted with fresh cracked pepper and grated parmesan cheese.
The flavors in this dish are outstanding. The sauce is velvety, the bacon is salty, the chicken is juicy, and the gnocchi is fluffy. It all comes together in the rich Cacio e Pepe sauce that perfectly coats every ingredient.
And boy is this dish filling! I was shocked by how full I was at the end.
Air Fried Cauliflower Cacio e Pepe Gnocchi with Peas and Bacon
2 servings | 20 minutes
1 12 oz bag cauliflower gnocchi (I used #traderjoes frozen gnocchi for this)
1/3 cup frozen peas
2 slices bacon, diced into bits (I used turkey bacon but regular works too!)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
6-7 oz chicken breast
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
Salt, as needed
No air fryer method- sauté gnocchi in 1 tbsp hot olive oil until brown, about 10 minutes.
No gnocchi method- sub gnocchi for 2 servings of any pasta on hand. Reserve 1 cup pasta water to use instead of chicken broth.
Place cauliflower gnocchi in air fryer in a single layer and cook at 350 for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through (Note: if using a small single serve air fryer this may need to be done in two batches, larger air fryers can do this in one). If you don't have access to an air fryer you can also sauté the gnocchi on the stove in some olive oil until the outside is brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.
While the gnocchi is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. If using turkey bacon, spray with nonstick olive oil spray. Classic bacon, will produce it's own grease so additional oil is not necessary. Add diced bacon to the pan and cook until crispy and cooked through. Add peas and toss until defrosted. Remove bacon bits and peas from pan and set aside.
Spray pan with nonstick olive oil spray and add chicken (Note: to speed up this step, cut chicken into bite sized pieces or simply use a cup of pre cooked chicken and add in at step 8). Cook chicken until browned on first side, 5-6 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until chicken is cook through, with an internal temperature of 165F. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to rest with bacon and peas.
Add butter and fresh cracked pepper to the pan. Swirl around the butter allowing it to toast with the pepper for about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the chicken broth until fully combined. Bring sauce to a boil and lower to a simmer.
Whisk in the parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until reduced to a thicker silky sauce, whisking frequently.
Slice the chicken into small bite sized pieces.
Fold the chicken, gnocchi, peas and bacon into the sauce until everything is evenly coated and heated through. Add additional salt if needed.
Serve warm, topped with extra fresh cracked pepper and parmesan!
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Nutrition facts are based off the trader joes brand of cauliflower gnocchi. Can substitute cauliflower gnocchi for traditional gnocchi or other pasta of preference. Nutrition facts may vary depending on brand, type of pasta, etc. used.