Gnocchi au Gratin with Leeks and Bacon

Have you ever been on your way home from work and trying to think of something easy and delicious for dinner, but also something that falls under “comfort food?” Because honestly, I do it all the time. Simple recipes that taste like they took much more effort are my real true love (sorry Andy! I promise I still love you, but the line between you and creamy, cheesy goodness can be a little blurry)

Long story short – that was my dilemma the other night. I couldn’t remember what I had on-hand in the kitchen, but I had just gotten a few absolutely gorgeous leeks at the farmer’s market a few days before and I was eager to use them. For anyone that isn’t familiar with leeks, they are part of the onion family, and although they have the family taste down pat, they look something like a “massive, mutated green onion.” (Thanks, babe) These things can be pretty massive, but have a surprisingly mild taste and are really made for anything creamy, cheesy, or white wine-based.

This super easy recipe just so happens to check all of those boxes, which means it’s perfect comfort food. With just a handful of ingredients – most of which are pantry and fridge staples – this can be whipped up in less than half an hour! And let’s be honest here… everyone has had potatoes au gratin (scalloped potatoes, funeral potatoes… whatever you want to call them) so it’s fun to try a little different spin on such a classic favorite. Not to mention it’s easily adaptable if you don’t have bacon on hand, or if you want to make it vegetarian altogether. Get ready for a gooey, cheesy, crispy, and perfectly indulgent weeknight dinner for when you’re craving something that will taste like you’re being hugged from the inside.

Gnocchi au Gratin with Leeks and Bacon

Breadcrumb topping

  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • Pinch of salt

Gnocchi au Gratin

  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 1/4 lb bacon, cut into short strips
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 leek, sliced thin; white and green parts only
  • 1 large shallot. diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk – or – 3/4 cup 2% milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 375°

  1. Combine all ingredients for breadcrumb topping and mix well; set aside
  2. Cook gnocchi in boiling, salted water as directed on the package until al dente. The trick to perfect gnocchi really isn’t a trick at all – watch for them to puff up a bit, and wait for them to float. Once they’re bobbing along the surface, cook for an additional 30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed and ovenproof skillet (I used my beloved Lodge cast iron.) Fry the bacon over medium heat until browned and almost crispy. Remove from skillet and set to drain with the gnocchi; discard rendered fat or save for another use.
  4. Lower the heat of the skillet a bit and add butter, taking care to not let it burn. Add the Leeks, shallots, garlic and thyme to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Carefully add wine to pan to avoid splashing, and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the milk (or mixture of 2% and heavy cream.) Simmer until liquid has reduced by 1/3 – about 5 minutes.
  5. Take the drained gnocchi and bacon and add it to the pan, making sure to coat evenly with the sauce. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and let thicken for another minute before covering the top with the breadcrumb mixture.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes until the topping has started to brown and mixture is bubbling. If not using an ovenproof skillet, simply transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over the top, and place under the broiler for a few minutes until crispy.
  7. Serve on its own, or with a side of roasted cruciferous veggies like kale, brussel sprouts or broccoli.

Notes and Variations

Everyone loves a classic gratin dish, but sometimes they can be just a bit too heavy for what you had in mind. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to lighten up this delectable dish!

  • Subbing out butter for olive oil (especially ones flavored with lemon or red pepper) is an easy way to lighten a cream-based recipe without having to sacrifice flavor.
  • If you’re looking to use a leaner protein than bacon, cooked and shredded chicken breast would be a perfect addition, while you could also use a hearty Italian sausage if you wanted something a little more substantial.
  • Incorporating other veggies, or more veggies (yay!) is also a quick and easy way to add flavor and textures, while amping up the nutritional value. Adding kale, spinach, frozen peas, or blanched asparagus when sautéing the alliums would be delicious and give you a nice crunch to offset the creamy goodness

I’m always excited to share my recipes with you, but I also want to hear from you too! If you’ve tried the recipe and loved it, or have any other substitutions or notes, please leave a comment! Every cook always has something different to offer, and we can learn so much from each other.

Until next time!

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