14 July 2012

Tenderstem Gnocchi al forno - a Tenderstem in Ten challenge dish!

Unfortunately, this is the last of the "Tenderstem in ten" dishes that we made - but only because we ran out of Tenderstem!

I've got at least two more ideas that I want to try out - so I'll have to find some Tenderstem broccoli in the shops and carry on.

This one was another of hubby's brilliant ideas - and it worked beautifully and can be done in the ten minutes.  Well, so long as you're quick on your feet, that is!  I am sure it would take me a whole lot longer, at the speed I amble around the kitchen!

Well, what's not to like?   Italian gnocchi, blue cheese, tenderstem broccoli and bacon - seems like a match made in heaven, to me - and so it was.

Gnocchi are brilliant little things, in that they take a fraction of a second to cook (oh alright then, two to three minutes tops) and are just divine in a cheese sauce.  The thing that takes the time with this dish is making the roux and grilling the bacon - but if you're able to multi-task and do the two at once (which I'm not), then you too should be able to put this dish together in just ten minutes.

The recipe is fairly flexible, too, in that you don't need to use just blue cheese if you're not keen on it.  A lovely mature cheddar would be gorgeous, as would some of the Swiss cheeses that melt well, like Emmental or Gruyere.  Don't forget to give the sauce a good pinch of some freshly ground black pepper, as that gives the lovely depth and warmth.

Equally, if you have some leftover chicken or gammon - then substitute that for the bacon.  I'm quite sure they would be just as delicious - and would have the benefit of already being cooked - so saving you a couple more minutes.

The sprinkling of breadcrumbs over the top of the gnocchi was a masterstroke, in that it gave another texture to the dish.  The soft gnocchi are always gorgeous and the Tenderstem broccoli is sweet and juicy, but to have a little crunch every so often kept your interest going.  It was only a shame that we ate this for lunch, or we could have had a glass of some chilled white wine with it - which would have rounded the whole thing off deliciously.


Ingredients :

250g streaky bacon
150g tenderstem broccoli
700g gnocchi
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml milk
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
200g Castello blue cheese (or your cheese of choice)
2 handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
a small grating of parmesan cheese for sprinkling.


1.  Boil a kettle.  Whilst you wait for the kettle to boil, begin grilling the bacon rashers.  Once cooked, cut into chunks and reserve to keep warm.

2.  Once the kettle boils, pour into a warm saucepan and bring back to the boil.

3.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir to combine, then add the milk bit by bit stirring all the time, until thickened to double cream consistency.  Add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and the cheese.  Stir to melt.

4.  Once the water has boiled, drop in the tenderstem and the gnocchi, as both take the same amount of time to cook.  2-3 minutes later, when the gnocchi are all at the surface of the water, drain and return to the hot saucepan.

5.  Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi & tenderstem and add the bacon.  Stir gently to combine, then pour into a flat serving dish that will go under the grill.

6.  Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, then grill until crispy and golden.

7.  Serve.

We ate ours with a simple side salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

Printable version


  1. this looks absolutely yummy! esp love that sprinkling of cunchy breadcrumbs for texture on top!

    1. Thanks! Yes, the breadcrumbs just finished it off beautifully. :)

  2. Looks so rich and delicious!

    1. It actually wasn't so terribly rich, Bree. Yes, the cheese enrichened the sauce somewhat, but that was as far as it went. The tenderstem served to provide the freshness that the sauce required, and the grilled bacon (so very little fat from there) gave it the savoury kick. Delicious it certainly was, though. :)

  3. And what about less butter for this recipe?

    1. Well, there is 25g involved in the recipe which split across three servings is just 8.3g per person - which isn't a lot. I suppose you could reduce the butter slightly, but as it is used to make the roux which is the base to the sauce, I could imagine that it would affect the flavour and texture of the sauce.


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