Pillowy gnocchi, bathed in a velvety white cheese sauce, transforms into a heavenly Gnocchi Au Gratin appetizer, side or main. Mmm.
I served this dish to my guests the other night as an appetizer. Some used the toothpicks I set out, but most scooped a few gnocchi onto their plates with a spoon and then proceeded to use the cut up bread from another appetizer as a tool to mop up any remaining sauce. I found the bowl scraped clean when I went to check how things were going about 10 minutes after I planted the dish on the coffee table. So I guess I’d call that a success. Oddly enough, this is the one dish I stressed over that night as I wasn’t sure it was going to work as an appetizer. It definitely does!
I loved being able to make the whole gnocchi with cheese sauce a few hours ahead and bake/broil it when the guests arrived. And the dish was easy to make. It’s just a simple white cheese sauce with a few seasonings. Using pre-made fresh potato gnocchi, of course, cuts the time and effort way down. A great shortcut in my opinion. I find the vacuum sealed packages of handmade gnocchi or even the more common Olivieri brand work really well. They have few if any additives and cook in just a few minutes.
When you wrap a yummy, cheesy sauce around the soft plump gnocchi – which, by the way, are small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour – the dish becomes real comfort food – sort of like upscale mac and cheese. Delish.
Tailor To Your Taste
- I use gruyere or emmanthal cheese. Fontina, provolone or other melty cheeses would work as well.
- I use poultry seasoning as the key flavour booster. It’s a combination of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and pepper. If you don’t have any, try combining sage and one or more of the others. I’m going to try basil instead in a summer version.
- If you’re making this dish as a main or side, you can add chopped fresh baby spinach at the same time you add the gnocchi to the sauce.
- For the sauce, I use 2% milk and a splash of half and half cream for added richness. Feel free to use whole milk or a lighter combination if you prefer.
- As noted, the big shortcut is using packaged potato gnocchi.
- One blog I read said it’s not necessary to boil the gnocchi before adding it to the sauce. If you want to try this, I suggest trying it if you are baking the gnocchi the next day as the bake time increases substantially.
Make Ahead Gnocchi With Cheese Sauce
- Instructions for make ahead are in the recipe. The amount of time for baking will need to increase.
Gnocchi Au Gratin (Shortcut) Recipe
- 1 package fresh potato gnocchi (375-500 g or 13-16 ounces)
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- garnish: 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
White Cheese Sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cup milk (1/4 cup of this can be cream for extra richness)
- 1 cup grated white cheese e.g. Gruyere, Fontina, Emmenthal, Monterey Jack, Provolone
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- To make ahead, see Note 1
- PREHEAT OVEN to 400F. Spray a small 7-8 inch round or square ovenproof dish with oil.
- BOIL GNOCCHI: Bring salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Put in gnocchi, bring to boil, and lower heat to medium. Gently boil for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- MAKE CHEESE SAUCE: Heat butter on medium in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add flour and seasonings, stirring for 2 minutes. Add milk (and cream if using), whisking until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in cheese until smooth sauce is formed. If too thick, add a bit more milk (sauce will thicken further with baking and standing). Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in gnocchi and green onions.
- BAKE/BROIL: Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the surface. Bake for 7 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes to brown, watching to ensure it doesn't burn. Let stand for a few minutes (sauce will thicken more) and serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or as a side or main dish.
- Make Ahead: Follow instructions above to boil gnocchi and make cheese sauce, including mixing in gnocchi and green onions. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to use, sprinkle Parmesan and chopped parsley over surface. Bake in preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes. Broil for 2-3 minutes if further browning is needed.
- Servings: Makes 6-8 appetizer servings, 2-3 mains, 4-5 sides.
Here’s another potato gnocchi dish you might like:
Indian Butter Gnocchi with Spinach get the recipe