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Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon

Monday’s are so much better when the weekends are sweet. Something I need to tattoo on my forehead when my brain tells me to go, go, go, stop napping, going on aimless walks and doing nothing that resembles work. When you are your work, it’s hard to turn off that faucet. Actually, it’s hard no matter what your career is. I remember feeling the same pull when I worked for the University, that guilt whenever I did something for pure leisure. Why are you reading a magazine? You should be grading papers, working on that grant, checking emails for the hundredth time today. No, no no. I’m getting better at ignoring those cues, but it doesn’t get any easier. So annoying.

So, I spent yesterday doing all the fun things. I drove a few hours into Illinois to meet with my best friend from Chicago, to pick apples, eat donuts, drink spiced cider and linger over veggie fajitas in the middle-0f-nowhere. Pure bliss. The perfect reset button to almost anything life throws my way.

You knew it was only a matter of time before I posted a pasta recipe, right? How could I not. The fact that it took me an entire week speaks volumes to my pasta-willpower. I will diversify my diet, I will eat more vegetables, I will not make pasta for the fourth time this week. Gnocchi, those pillowy nuggets of perfection are my kryptonite. Besides the fact that they are fairly easy to make (I’ve got a few homemade gnocchi recipes in my cookbook), they are a welcome change from spaghetti.

The combo of roasted cauliflower, capers and lemon just felt right. Truth be told, I could eat this without the addition of gnocchi. If you don’t love vegetables the same way that I do, try them roasted. They become caramelized, crispy and almost sweet. Add that to gnocchi? Complete perfection.

After cooking the gnocchi, I added them to the pan of vegetables for a quick sear. Giving them a little toast adds even more flavor, and allows the sauce to cling to every surface. Garlicky breadcrumbs are my secret umami ingredient without parmesan cheese. Which, you could add if so desired, but I wanted to keep this one dairy-free for my vegan friends.

I know capers are a unusual ingredient, but trust me on this one. They add a complex saltiness that pairs well with the gnocchi, roasted cauliflower and lemon. I don’t know why, but it works.

Wishing you a Monday as sweet as your weekend!


Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon


Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins


Vegan Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon! This dinner is perfect for fall; crispy roasted cauliflower, capers, garlic breadcrumbs, gnocchi and fresh lemon juice. A must-make.

Author: Alex Caspero

Recipe type: pasta, healthy, vegan, dinner, entree

Serves: 4 servings


  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets

  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 17.5 package potato gnocchi

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained

  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the gnocchi to the skillet along with the garlic, breadcrumbs, almonds, red pepper flakes and remaining salt and pepper. Cook until almonds and breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Add the roasted cauliflower, lemon juice capers and parsley.
  4. If needed, add in some of the reserved cooking water to loosen the gnocchi. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

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