I rarely want to make bechamel on a weeknight: cue my ultimate cheat’s version, a mixture of ricotta, mascarpone, cheddar and mustard (you’re welcome.) You can, of course, put it through macaroni, but, for a properly rib-sticking dish, it’s got to be gnocchi, with just-blanched cauliflower and kale to break up the stodge.
Gnocchi mac and cheese with cauliflower and kale
Do use “ambient”, vacuum-packed gnocchi for this, rather than fresh, because you want that more al-dente texture.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
1kg vacuum-packed gnocchi
Salt and black pepper
1 cauliflower, cut into medium florets
150g kale, thick stalks removed and discarded, the rest roughly chopped
180g mature cheddar, grated
3 heaped tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp flaky salt
40g panko or white breadcrumbs
A drizzle of olive oil
Heat the grill to medium-high (mine says 200C/390F). Bring a really large pan of salted water to a boil, then turn off the heat and add the gnocchi, cauliflower and kale. Prod the kale so it stays under the water, then let everything sit and blanch for two minutes. Drain well, then tip into a large, shallow roasting tin.
Mix the ricotta, mascarpone, 100g of the cheddar and the mustard (you really must use the mustard, because it helps emulsify the sauce). Stir in the salt, then add the sauce to the gnocchi and vegetables, and stir gently until everything is well coated. Taste for seasoning.
Scatter the remaining 80g cheddar and the breadcrumbs over the top, and add a drizzle of olive oil and a good grind of black pepper. Place the tray under the grill for three to four minutes, keeping an eye on it and rotating the tray, then grill for a further two to three minutes, until golden brown and crisp. The top will catch easily, sokeep an eye on it – then enjoy immediately.