After going-going-going for our first two weeks in Austin, I must say that this past weekend was a lesson in R&R.
We slept in — like, legitimately sleep in — each morning. We ate tacos, tacos, and more tacos for lunch. We soaked up the warm Texas sunshine and went on some long walks exploring in the afternoons. We sipped frozen happy hour margaritas on patios as the sun went down in the early evenings. We stayed up spending time with new and old friends and some family members passing through town until late at night. And we took it all wonderfully — and deliciously — slow. No rushing, no hurrying, no packed calendars. Just nice and slow, like the charming Southern drawls we keep hearing everywhere.
Which, of course, made me realize for the 1000th time how quickly I still tend to move through life. I feel like I have slowed down significantly over the past few years, choosing to more time with people I love and lesson work, and trying to make that quality time without being distracted by alerts on my phone or looming plans ahead. But even still, I can’t help but always notice that my default is to rush, in the hopes of squeezing as many good things as possible into a day.
That’s the beauty of being in a brand new place, though, where everything is new and we don’t know our way around and our calendars are wi-hi-hide open. (And notably, where we have an entire month to explore, versus trying to cram everything into a few days.) We have been able to take our time — quite literally — with everything. And goodness, has it felt refreshing. I apparently needed it. And I’m loving it. And I’m trying to let myself get very, very used to it. :)
I’m happy to say that we’ve also been taking things at a slower space in our little Texas kitchen. I’m usually the queen of efficiency when buzzing right and left around my kitchen at home in Kansas City. But trying to navigate our way around a new kitchen has definitely slowed me down, not to mention the constant elbow-bumping and cute-dog-distracting that comes with sharing a kitchen with Cookie & Kate. I wouldn’t change a single (slow) minute, though. It has been so much fun.
And frankly, when it comes to Italian comfort food like this creamy stovetop Gnocchi Mac and Cheese, I want to soak up every second.
I know that we’re not officially in the “deep” South right now. But hey, Texas may be as close as I come for awhile. So as a little nod to Southern comfort food while we’re down here, I thought it was high time I post a new recipe for mac and cheese.
Well, minus the mac.
My favorite gnocchi from DeLallo get to play the starring role in this rich, classic, creamy stovetop version of mac and cheese! Which means that this dish will have minimal gluten if you use my favorite mini potato gnocchi. (Or which can be 100% gluten-free if you use DeLallo’s gluten-free gnocchi.) And which also means that you get to enjoy those little heavenly pillows of chewy gnocchi deliciousness with each bite. (Sorry, I don’t know why I always think of gnocchi as “heavenly pillows”…but they are.)
You can definitely make homemade gnocchi for this recipe if you insist. But I took the shortcut of using DeLallo’s delicious pre-packaged gnocchi for this recipe. I always keep a few boxes on hand in my pantry (even here in Austin!) because they only take a few minutes to boil and are perfect for last-minute dishes.
If you’ve never cooked gnocchi before, trust me, you’re going to love ’em. Just bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (as you would for pasta). Then add the gnocchi and wait until they rise to the surface, for about 4-ish minutes. Once they have floated to the top, just strain out the water and you’re ready to go!
While you’re waiting for your pasta water to come to a boil, let’s get started on that cheesy sauce.
I went with the classic trifecta of cheeses for mac and cheese with this recipe — sharp cheddar, fontina and Parmesan. They are the ultimate in rich, creamy, cheesy perfection. But in order for each of them to melt the smoothest, I recommend buying the cheese in blocks and then grating it yourself just before adding it to the sauce.
Once they are all grated, whisk them up with some milk, veggie (or chicken) broth, cornstarch (as a gluten-free thickener), garlic, and some salt and pepper to make your sauce.
Then once your gnocchi are cooked and ready to go, toss them with the sauce.
And the result? Well, I think you can see for yourself.
Perfectly creamy, perfectly cheesy, perfectly gnocchi-y. Basically just perfect, if you ask me.
I usually prefer my mac and cheese fresh off the stovetop. But if you prefer the dish baked, you can pop it in the oven sprinkled with some Italian breadcrumbs to get a nice crispy crust at this point.
Otherwise, I recommend just serving it plain off the stovetop…
…maybe sprinkled with some fresh parsley or basil, or maybe even topped with an extra pinch of Parmesan if you’re feeling indulgent.
Like I said, this meal is comfort food through and through. But I promise you, it’s worth every delicious bite. And even better when enjoyed nice and slowly. Enjoy!
1/4 teaspoon finely-ground black pepper, or more to taste
(optional toppings: finely-chopped fresh parsley or basil, extra Parmesan cheese)
Cook the gnocchi in a large stockpot of generously-salted boiling water, according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, as you are waiting for the water to come to a boil and for the gnocchi to cook, make your cheese sauce. Begin by whisking the cornstarch and the vegetable/chicken stock together in a small bowl until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set aside. (Be sure that the stock is room temperature or cooler, otherwise the cornstarch will not dissolve.)
Heat butter or olive oil in a (separate) large saucepan or saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk until combined. Add in the milk, and whisk until combined. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a low boil. Then remove from heat, and stir in the cheeses until they are melted and smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine the cooked gnocchi and cheese sauce in the large stockpot, and toss together until the gnocchi are evenly coated. Serve immediately, topped with optional toppings if desired.
*If you are making this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use DeLallo’s gluten-free gnocchi. Otherwise, their traditional mini potato gnocchi are not gluten-free.
This is a sponsored post in partnership with DeLallo. I am a mega fan of the brand, and the story and ingredients and flavors behind their food, and all opinions are my own as always. Thanks for supporting the brands which help make this site possible!
I made this last night, it was to die for AMAZING and so easy to make! Will definitely make it again!
Thanks Brielle, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I made this over the weekend, and it was fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe! Nicki
Thanks, Nicki, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! : )
I don’t have corn starch on hand, any other suggestions?
Sure, you can just use flour!
What a great idea! Where has this recipe been all my life???
Thank you Jennifer, we hope you love it! :)
This recipe popped up in my Pinterest feed and I nearly tripped over myself on the way to grab my boyfriend for the inevitable: what do you think? question. As he is already a big gnocchi fan, he was in. We’ve made it twice since I found the recipe last week. Second time we added bacon on top. Good lord, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything so deliciously decadent. IT IS AMAZING!
Thanks Dez, we’re so happy you and your boyfriend loved it! :)
Holy Moly! This is delicious!
Thanks Amanda, we’re happy you enjoyed it! :D
I stumbled across this recipe via Pinterest and I can’t wait to make it. Also, coincidence that I clicked on this particular recipe and you’re using Delallo’s products when I live a mile away from their store in Greensburg, PA? It blew my mind!
That’s so cool Katie, and small world! Anyway, we hope you enjoy the recipe! :)
I made this and was sooo exited to love it but all I could taste was the garlic. I couldnt make out any of the other ingredients.. not even the cheese! I will be making this again but leaving the garlic out completely.
Oh no, we’re so sorry to hear it was too garlicky for you!
This recipe appeared on my Pinterest feed last week. I just made it. I am in love with this dish! The only thing I did differently was to add a generous pinch of cayenne to the cheese sauce – delicious!
Aww that’s so sweet Maribeth, thank you for sharing! We’re happy you love it and we think that cayenne is an excellent idea! :)
My ex-mother-in-law used to make haluski with gnocchi instead of egg noodles and it was amazing. I am definitely going to try this recipe. I usually make my own gnocchi.
That’s really cool Tony, we hope you like this!
Would this freeze well for make ahead lunch?
Hi Vanessa, unfortunately because of the high dairy content in this recipe, we wouldn’t recommend freezing it. It will likely change the texture significantly.
If you can’t find Fontane cheese, what can u substitute?
Hi Janice, if you can’t find Fontina cheese, you can use mild provolone, gruyere or gouda (whichever you like)! :) We hope you enjoy!
This looks delicious! This may be a meal for a cheat day soon. :-) I don’t feel like there’s much of a point in trying to make mac and cheese “healthy”.
I hope you take some time to explore the delicious eats in Austin. I think you could definitely find some inspiration there. I don’t live there, but food and Waterloo Music are my favorite parts of visiting Austin. (And stopping for ice cream at Amy’s.)
Thanks Ariel — we hope you enjoy it! :) And thanks, we can’t WAIT to get back to Austin!
We tried this tonight. It was a big hit! One kid said too much garlic, so I might try 2 cloves (I may have done a bit more than three as I tend to be rather generous with garlic – oops!) I also couldn’t find hard fontina cheese, so I subbed Monterey Jack and it worked well! Of course, fontina would probably be better, but this was definitely a doable substitute!
Thanks for sharing Caree — we’re glad it was a hit with your family! :)
If I want to make half of this recipe, do you have any recommendations? Or do you suggest strictly just cutting all of the ingredients in half?
Hi Emma! Yes, all you should need to do is just cut all of the ingredients in half. We hope you enjoy!
I just made this and the garlicky shrimp bake for dinner tonight and my husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever made!! Score! Thanks for this and all your recipes. Can’t wait to try more!
Wow, what a lovely compliment Brittany! We’re so glad you and your husband enjoyed this! :)
Is this food warmed up as leftovers?
You can warm this up for leftovers, definitely. We hope you enjoy!
I want to make this to use up the gnocchi I made (it was the first time I made it and I accidentally made enough for 3-4 pots of soup) but I feel like my guests will miss the pasta. Do you think it would taste okay if I mix half pasta and half gnocchi or just do it straight gnocchi?
Hi Laura! We would just do all gnocchi — that’s what we did anyway. :) Hope you enjoy!
MAde this tonight. Oh my goodness, cheesey heaven. I accidentally bought one package on mini gnocchi and a package of regular, so i just mixed them together. This was so yummy, will definitely be making it again. Thank you!
Thank you, Jodie, we’re so happy you loved it!
I made this for dinner and it was absolutely amazing! Instead of Fontina cheese I used mozzarella because I had some laying around and it was so perfect. I will definitely be saving this recipe and using it in the future!
Made this and it was so so good. Except I tweaked it by adding bite sized pieces of chicken, some spinach, and some bite sized pieces of brocoli. Huge hit with my husband and our two year old son :)
My new favorite mac and cheese! Made this for my treat meal and was not disappointed! I used white sharp cheddar and Colby jack cheese as that’s what I like.
This recipe sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it.
Tried this for date night. We both loved it?? I wish I could post a pic