Monday, October 4, 2010

Gnoochi Mac and Cheese

I love gnocchi. One of my very earliest memories is watching my grandmother making piles of these for our Christmas Eve dinner. She peeled a mountain of white potatoes, boiled and mashed them, mixed in eggs and flour, then rolled very long ropes of the dough. It was so fun to watch, especially her cutting the ropes into 1” pieces, then each one she would indent with the side of her thumb and, in the same motion, toss it into a cloth-lined basket. They were so delicious, tender and light, smothered in homemade marinara… *whimper* ;

When I was in college my Mom started make gnocchi with instant potato flakes. Those worked, and was a lot less work. Now you can get them in the grocery store, refrigerated or in shelf-stable packaging, and they are not bad at all. Not my grandmother’s, or my Mom’s (although she has been buying them for years now), but pretty good.

I’ve never made gnocchi well. They always seem to be tough and I know that’s because I overwork the dough, but I can’t get around it. I did try to make pumpkin gnocchi a few years ago and failed. So I sent up the white flag.

I was flipping through my newest Cuisine at Home magazine a few weeks ago and Jack happened to see the photo of Gnocchi Mac & Cheese. He loves macaroni and cheese, and the mere thought of subbing gnocchi for the pasta made him positively giddy. :) Every couple of days he asked about making it, so finally I gave in.

The accompanying recipe for gnocchi was disregarded as I had a packaged of DeLallo’s brand in the pantry. We had friends visit last weekend and I had a good bit of cheese left, so I subbed the light Jarlsberg for Gruyere and sharp cheddar for fontina. And as good as the photo looked of the brown crust over the cheesy surface of the baked gnocchi, I decided that tomatoes would be a wonderful taste with the cheese so I sliced one and placed the slices on the surface of the casserole before baking.

Near the end of the baking time, Jack came into the kitchen. “Everything smells like cheese, even in my office” he announced happily. I need to find a cheese-scented candle for that man.

Anyway, here is my variation on the recipe. The CAH recipe is for 6 servings, and I roughly halved it to make 3, but we ate it all… I told myself that I had lightened the recipe, so it was okay.

(not the best photo, but someone was standing beside me, fork in hand...)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home issue #83

Servings: 3

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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16 ounces potato gnocchi

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small garlic clove -- crushed

2 teaspoons flour

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 ounce lite Jarlsberg cheese

1/2 ounce sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- optional, adjust as desired

1 large tomato -- sliced into 6-8 1/4" thick slices

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese -- shaved or coarsely grated

In a small nonstick saucepan, sauté the garlic in olive oil for a minute, then sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Whisk in the milk and Dijon and continue to cook and whisk until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

Turn down heat and add the Jarlsberg and cheddar cheeses, a little at a time, whisking until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add chipotle if desired and stir in.

Coat a shallow 1 quart baking dish with cooking spray and lay the cooked gnocchi in a single layer. Pour the sauce over, spreading to cover the surface. Lay the tomato slices on the surface of the gnocchi and spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or basil and serve.

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Per serving: 364 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (16% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 11mg Cholesterol; 1178mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Not really 3 servings for us...