Zuppa Toscana with a Skillet Dinner Twist!
This skillet gnocchi dinner is inspired by the flavors of Zuppa Toscana, the classic creamy Italian soup (you know how much we love soup here at PWWB! 😋). I wanted to embrace the soup’s best flavors & textures, but reimagine it as an easy skillet meal for a fun change of pace.
It all starts with one of my all-time favorite freezer staples, Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi (you’ll seriously always find a few bags in my freezer!). By toasting them in a skillet, they take on great golden-brown color & they get ever-so-slightly crispy. It’s so good!
From there, the gnocchi skillet comes together with hearty Italian sausage & kale in a creamy pan sauce. The littlest bit of lemon helps cut through the richness of the sauce with a brightness that will keep you coming back for seconds. It takes 35 minutes or less & it all happens in one pan – basically, a weeknight dinner dream!
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Creamy Skillet Gnocchi Recipe Highlights
The Zuppa Toscana inspiration! ⇢ This skillet gnocchi recipe uses classic Zuppa Toscana ingredients like Italian sausage, kale, & plenty of aromatics. We mix things up with gnocchi (instead of potatoes) & a creamy pan sauce (vs broth).
The result is a sausage gnocchi skillet with familiar flavor & a few fun twists! It’s…
SNEAKY VEGGIE-LOADED. 😏 Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi is a freezer staple here at the PWWB House because they’re an easy way to sneak in extra veggies on a lazy weeknight. They’re the star ingredient of this gnocchi skillet, making a meal that’s equally satisfying & veggie-loaded.
CREAMY & BRIGHT. The gnocchi simmers in a creamy pan sauce with Italian sausage, kale, & grated parmesan. A finishing touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice adds beautiful brightness to balance the skillet gnocchi’s richness. It’s absolutely delicious!
WEEKNIGHT-FRIENDLY. This gnocchi skillet has everything you want & need on a weeknight – quick prep, minimal clean-up, & super satisfying flavors & textures. It’s a one-pan dinner that comes together in 35 minutes or less – easy!
Simple, fun, & guaranteed to make you smile! 🤗 ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Creamy Cauliflower Gnocchi Skillet with Italian Sausage & Kale, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Cauliflower Gnocchi – Tips & Tricks
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Our go-to cauliflower gnocchi. ⇢ Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is a freezer staple here at the PWWB House. We love that it’s so convenient & such a cozy & delicious way to sneak in some extra veggies at dinnertime. For best results, we recommend letting the gnocchi thaw completely before you begin cooking this recipe.
Tip! ⇢ Don’t forget to toast your gnocchi! 👩🏻🍳 This is a game-changing move that easily makes store-bought gnocchi taste totally restaurant-worthy. To toast the gnocchi, simply add it to the skillet & let it brown for a few minutes per side until it’s golden & crispy. Why? ⇢ Browning = flavor! That little bit of crispiness is also a welcomed texture in a rich & creamy sauce.
Creamy Gnocchi Skillet Sauce
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
This creamy pan sauce comes together in the same skillet used to toast the gnocchi. Start by browning Italian sausage with onions, garlic, & Italian seasoning. From there, add chopped kale & cook just until it softens & turns bright green. Build the sauce with chicken broth or stock, heavy cream, & grated parmesan cheese. Let it all simmer together a little bit, then toss in the toasted cauliflower gnocchi.
The perfect finishing touch! ⇢ The littlest bit of lemon juice makes ALL the difference in this cauliflower gnocchi skillet recipe. Instead of making things taste super lemony, it adds beautiful brightness that helps cut through the rich & creamy sauce. It’s a simple touch that balances out the whole dish & keeps you reaching back for seconds. A must-add! 🍋
10-Minute Meal Prep
This creamy skillet gnocchi is ready in 35 minutes, but dinner’s even faster if you do some chopping in advance – aka mise en place!
Simply dice the onion, de-stem & chop the kale, & store the veggies in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When dinner rolls around you can jump right into cooking!
Check the the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance.
I can’t wait for you to try this Creamy Cauliflower Gnocchi Skillet with Italian Sausage & Kale! We’ve been dying to share this recipe with you ever since I first dreamed it up – it’s simple, delicious, & SO much fun! We’re pretty sure you’re going to love it too.
If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
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Weeknight Pasta Recipes
Zuppa Toscana, but skillet dinner-style!
For quite some time now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of reimagining Zuppa Toscana, the creamy Italian soup we all know & love, as a fun skillet dinner with gnocchi. This Creamy Cauliflower Gnocchi Skillet recipe is the result! It has all the flavors you love in a bowl of classic Zuppa Toscana, but it comes together in a creamy pan sauce (instead of a soupy broth).
I tested this recipe using Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, which is a freezer staple here at the PWWB House. Toasting the gnocchi in a skillet turns them beautifully golden brown & ever-so-slightly crispy, & I love that they add the coziest sneaky serving of veggies to any meal! (If cauliflower gnocchi is a new-to-you ingredient, be sure to check out the blog post, above, for a few tips, tricks, & substitutions.)
Once the gnocchi are toasted, the Zuppa Toscana inspiration really comes to life with hearty Italian sausage, kale, & a creamy pan sauce with the littlest bit of lemon juice to make everything sing.
I hope you love this skillet dinner just as much as we do! ♡ Happy cooking!
- one 12-ounce bag cauliflower gnocchi, thawed from frozen (see Recipe Notes)
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound hot or mild turkey Italian sausage (see Recipe Notes)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- optional: up to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely chopped (approx. 2–3 cups packed)
- 1 cup chicken stock/broth
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 1 lemon, juiced
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prepare the gnocchi: Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower gnocchi. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until the gnocchi is golden brown & crispy. Transfer to a plate & set aside.
- Brown the sausage: Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet used to toast up the gnocchi. Add the onion & season with a good pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the Italian sausage to the skillet. Brown the sausage 5-7, using a wooden spoon to break it into bite-sized crumbles as it cooks – if needed, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to help it brown up nicely.
- Build the creamy “Toscana” sauce: Stir the garlic, Italian seasoning, & red pepper flakes (if using) into the sausage & onion mixture. Cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the kale & cook 2-3 minutes longer, until the kale is vibrant green & softened slightly. To build the creamy sauce, stir in the chicken stock, heavy cream, & grated parmesan. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Finish the cauliflower gnocchi skillet: Add the toasted cauliflower gnocchi back into the skillet. Stir to combine well. Simmer 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Finish the cauliflower gnocchi skillet with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Taste & adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with additional grated parmesan, chopped fresh basil or parsley, &/or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, as desired. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Cauliflower gnocchi: In developing & testing this recipe, I used the popular frozen cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. If time permits, be sure to thaw the gnocchi from frozen for a more even cook – I typically put the bag in the refrigerator the night before I plan to prepare it, though letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking or popping it through a “defrost” cycle in the microwave will work just fine too. If you do not have access to Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, other frozen varieties should work. If you prefer to use store-bought potato gnocchi, you may need to toast them up a little bit longer to ensure they cook through.
- Italian sausage: I opt for leaner turkey/chicken sausage for this cauliflower gnocchi skillet, though full-fat pork sausage will work beautifully! For a meatless version, feel free to use your favorite vegetarian sausage crumbles. Since the salt content of sausage varies based on type, I highly suggest using a little less seasoning to start & making any necessary adjustments at the end.
- Storage & Reheating: Any leftover cauliflower gnocchi skillet will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this gnocchi skillet comes from prepping the veggies. Take care of this in advance – it takes 10 minutes, tops – & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week:
- Dice 1 medium yellow onion. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (<5 minutes active)
- Remove the kale leaves from the fibrous ribs, then thinly slice or tear the leaves. Transfer the shredded kale to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active)
Keywords: skillet dinner, Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi recipe, cauliflower gnocchi, easy skillet dinners
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.