Karen Martini's mac and cheese-style gnocchi

Karen Martini makes macaroni cheese even cosier.
Karen Martini makes macaroni cheese even cosier. Photo: William Meppem
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Kid-friendly

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Swapping the pasta for gnocchi means things are that bit cosier. Making gnocchi at home isn't hard once you're used to it, but decent commercial gnocchi has its place. Homemade gnocchi will be light, fluffy and delicate, while the store-bought version will typically be a firmer dumpling, which is better for a dish like this.

Ingredients

800ml milk

15g bonito flakes*

500g store-bought gnocchi

60g butter

1 onion, finely diced

5 garlic cloves, finely sliced

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

60g plain flour

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

100ml cream

100g Grana Padano cheese, finely grated

150g aged cheddar, coarsely grated

4 spring onions, white and green parts, finely sliced

2 handfuls of breadcrumbs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).

2. Add the milk and bonito flakes to a small saucepan and heat until just under a simmer. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes, then strain. Keep the milk warm.

3. Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain and place in a large bowl.

4. While the gnocchi cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

5. Add the flour and stir through for a minute or so to cook out the raw flavour. Pour in the warm milk, whisking as you do. Add the mustard and cook, whisking continuously, until the sauce has thickened and is free of lumps, about 2 minutes.

6. Add the cream, both cheeses and the spring onion, then whisk until combined. Season, then tip into the bowl with the gnocchi. Stir through.

7. Tip the gnocchi mix into a ceramic baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve with some dressed salad leaves.

*The bonito may seem an odd inclusion, but it adds a smoky, salty, umami-laden character that knits in beautifully.