August 11, 2023

Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi

Broccoli cheddar soup (you know it’s your favorite from Panera), but make it a creamy and comforting gnocchi dish.

I make no apologize for the amount of cheese that is in this dish, it is broccoli cheddar after all. If your favorite soup is broccoli cheddar then this broccoli cheddar gnocchi bake is for you. It is creamy, cheesy, and tastes just like Panera’s best selling soup. This recipe was designed around back to school, a quick dish with not a lot of prep that is perfect to make on a weeknight dinner. Also bonus, your kids will eat and love it too.

broccoli cheddar gnocchi

WHAT IS A GNOCCHI BAKE?

It is a common misconception that gnocchi is pasta. Hate to tell you it’s not. Gnocchi is actually a dumpling, and one of the most popular types is potato gnocchi. If you have cooked with gnocchi before you know just how versatile this ingredient is. It can be boiled and tossed in sauce or olive oil, pan fried until crispy, or even roasted with fresh vegetables. There are countless way to prepare it, but in this recipe we are going to smother it in Panera broccoli cheddar copycat sauce and bake until it is tender and chewy. For the most part unless you are making homemade, that recipe will be coming eventually, gnocchi is a low maintenance easy staple to have in the pantry.

If you love this concept of dump gnocchi in sauce and bake check out my Pizza Gnocchi Bake. Pssst if you haven’t guessed it from the name that one is pizza flavor.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR BROCCOLI CHEDDAR GNOCCHI

  • Potato Gnocchi – This dish is all about quick and easy so the potato gnocchi that you find at the supermarket is a great option here. I have tried a lot of packaged gnocchi, and I will say that they aren’t all equal. I find that some brands have an unpleasant cardboard taste. If you have a favorite brand 100% buy that. If you can only find one brand in the supermarket absolutely pick it. Truthfully my favorite is Delallo, which is sold in a lot of major super markets and online.
  • Broccoli – Fresh, not frozen. This recipe calls for 2 cups of broccoli which I know can be kind of awkward to measure. If you have a scale pull it out, it is 180g.
  • Carrots – Make this easy on yourself, buy pre-shredded.
  • Broth – Chicken broth or chicken stock is preferred, but a good flavorful vegetable broth works as well.
  • Heavy Cream – Sorry, the heavy cream is necessary.
  • Cheddar Cheese – Get regular cheddar cheese or sharp cheddar, not aged, not super sharp. So, if you didn’t know super sharp and aged cheddar cheese melts… greasy? I learned this the hard way. Not only is there cheddar cheese in the sauce, but also on top. In no way is this dish designed to eat greasy so just pick the appropriate cheddar. Will it still be good if you happen to use extra sharp cheddar? Absolutely, the cheese that you top it will just be a little greasy.
  • Mozzarella Cheese – I like to do a 50/50 blend of cheddar and a low moisture full fat mozzarella cheese on top. 100% mozzarella on top also tastes fantastic and it will brown and bubble a bit more than the cheddar.
  • Butter
  • Flour – Used to further thicken the sauce.
  • Onion – 1/2 a medium yellow or Vidalias.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!

TOOLS NEEDED

Wide Skillet / Braiser – You need a wide and large enough skillet that will hold the sauce as well as a lb of gnocchi.

HOW TO MAKE BROCCOLI CHEDDAR GNOCCHI

Cook the Base – In a large wide pan over low heat melt the butter. Once melted, add the garlic, onions and cook until soft and fragrant 3-4 minutes. Because you are adding the garlic with onions, the garlic shouldn’t burn with the additional moisture from the onions. Still make sure the heat is on low. Once soft add the flour and mix to combine. Cook for a minute, constantly mixing to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Make it a Sauce – Add the broth and simmer that for a minute or two, just until it starts to thicken up and can coat the back of the spoon. Add the carrots and broccoli. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded cheese and mix till melted and incorporated.

Bake – Toss in the uncooked gnocchi. It is so important that you do not cook it before it goes into the pan. Pre-cook it and you will be left with a squishy mess in the end. Top with additional cheese and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and gnocchi is soft.

DISCLAIMER; If you want to skip the additional cheese on top for whatever reason whether you don’t want to buy more cheese or want to cut the calories in this dish somewhere it will still taste just as good.

broccoli cheddar gnocchi before it has been topped with cheese and placed in the oven

A FEW QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE

Below are some questions you may have. I also update this section if I receive a questions, so check back!

Can I substitute the heavy cream for half and half or milk? No, this dish needs the fat from the heavy cream. Heavy cream adds richness and also thickens the sauce.

Why can’t I use frozen broccoli? Frozen broccoli is typically partially cooked. Because this simmers a bit on the stove and in the oven you need the broccoli to be raw. Frozen broccoli would lead to a mushy mess.

Can I reduce the cheese? See above under “How to Make” section. You can remove the additional cheese on top if you are looking to reduce.

Can I make this in advance? No

Can I make this with pasta instead? So, this has not been (come back next month I will have a confirmed tested answer). If you want to try it yourself before I do go for it. Swap out the pound of gnocchi for 1/2 lb of pasta. The pasta will need more liquid than gnocchi so it wouldn’t be a pound for a pound.

cooked broccoli cheddar gnocchi with bubbly cheese

STORING/REHEATING

I can not emphasize this enough, this dish needs to be eaten fresh. The longer it sits the more the gnocchi will continue to absorb the sauce and the more it will congeal. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the fridge. Either pop it in the oven at 325 covered until warmed throughout or microwave it. It wont be the same creamy luscious sauce as when it was fresh but it will still taste good.

Looking for more easy weeknight dinners that the whole family will love? I got you, see below for a few of my favorites.

White Skillet Lasagna
Creamy Garlic + Herb Salmon
Pasta and Peas with Bacon

September 16, 2023

Broccoli Cheddar Gnocchi

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This broccoli cheddar gnocchi is creamy, cheesy, and tastes just like Panera's best selling soup. Done in under 40.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword back to school, Broccoli Cheddar, Gnocchi, Skillet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion small dice
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cups broth chicken or vegetable
  • 2 cups broccoli rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots shredded
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb potato gnocchi
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese ability to swap for cheddar or do a 50/50 split

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  • In a large wide pan over low heat melt the butter. Once melted add the garlic, onions, and a heavy pinch of kosher salt and cook until soft and fragrant 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the flour and mix to incorporate. Cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the broth. Let the broth thicken for a minute (until it can coat the back of a spoon) and add the carrots and broccoli. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded cheese and mix till melted and incorporated. Salt to taste.
  • Toss in the gnocchi and mix to coat. Top with cheese and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the dish is bubbly and cheese has melted. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

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