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The 5-Ingredient Trader Joe's Dinner I Make On Busy Weeknights

It takes the guesswork out of dinner when I don’t have time to plan.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Maren Ellingboe King</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Maren Ellingboe King

Welcome to Fearless Meals, a column where we help you get through your busy week with speedy, easy, low-stress dinner recipes that call for 5 ingredients or less from our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe's.

As a busy mom of two boys under three, I’m always looking for easy dinners that come together quickly. Plus, as a professional food stylist and recipe developer, I’m usually not in the mood to cook elaborate meals when I already spend all day cooking for clients. That’s where some favorite Trader Joe’s items come in extremely handy.

I came up with this sheet pan gnocchi on a cold winter night when I was craving something comforting but didn’t want to run to the store or order takeout. I happened to have some packaged gnocchi in my pantry along with some pre-made pesto and Trader Joe’s Italian Meatballs. 30 minutes later, dinner was ready!

A Magical Combo of Trader Joe’s Ingredients

One thing I love about Trader Joe’s is their selection of sauces and dips, and their Pesto Genovese is no exception. It will last for a few weeks in the fridge and has a bright, balanced flavor with plenty of basil and garlic. I also use it on pizza and I’ll often have a container stashed in my freezer for last-minute meals. Though my family isn’t vegan, TJ’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto also works very well in this recipe.

I also love Trader Joe’s shelf-stable potato gnocchi—whether browned in a skillet with some sausage or served with red sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese, it makes for a quick and satisfying meal that’s always a hit with my husband and toddler.

I always make sure to buy Parmigiano Reggiano at Trader Joe’s—they have the best prices on cheese, and a large wedge will last for weeks in my fridge, topping everything from pasta to Caesar salads to garlic bread. Then I freeze the rind to add to homemade stock or large batches of beans.

<p>Simply Recipes / Maren Ellingboe King</p>

Simply Recipes / Maren Ellingboe King

How I Make My Trader Joe’s Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Meatballs

To make 4 servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 (1-pound) package Trader Joe’s Gnocchi

  • 1/2 (10-ounce) bag Trader Joe’s Tuscan Kale

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan

  • 1 (1-pound) bag Trader Joe’s Italian-Style Meatballs (frozen)

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Pesto Genovese

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss one pound of gnocchi and half of a 10-ounce bag of Tuscan kale with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with a little olive oil and spread the gnocchi and greens on the baking sheet.

Add as many meatballs as you like (the bag comes with 15). Bake for 20 minutes, shaking the baking sheet halfway through for more even browning.

Swoosh a hearty spoonful of pesto into each serving bowl. Top with three or four meatballs and as much gnocchi and greens as you like. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable, depending on what you have on hand. Sometimes I throw in leftover roasted vegetables, use cherry tomatoes, or swap broccoli or cauliflower florets instead of kale. Try using marinara sauce instead of pesto, or swap the meatballs for sliced mushrooms cooked with butter and shallots for a vegetarian version. 

<p>Simply Recipes / Maren Ellingboe King</p>

Simply Recipes / Maren Ellingboe King

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.