This fancy-fied mac and cheese casserole makes a lovely dinner party dish or Thanksgiving side dish. It’s an amalgamation of a classic gnocchi gratin and crab mac and cheese, offering a bit of cozy luxury.
Several months ago I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco.
I adored walking the hills, observing the intricate architecture, breathing in the ocean air, and visiting quirky shops and galleries.
Other than the ocean air, it reminded me of a larger Asheville and I felt right at home.
Of all the wonderful things I saw and experienced in San Francisco, the thing that stuck out to me the most was the incredible food culture.
Everywhere I looked wonderful things were being grown, caught, baked, churned, crafted and cured. I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you all the delightful things I tasted.
Just know, there was a lot of cheese, chocolate, sourdough bread, and an episode with salami in a cone.
I can, however, fully describe the dish that was the most memorable, Crab Mac and Cheese.
At a little waterfront restaurant, we ate the most decadent mac and cheese casserole with large succulent chunks of crab meat nestled within.
As I looked out at the bay, I savored every bite and took mental notes so I could come home and recreate such a dish.
This fall, I experimented with various mac and cheese casseroles and finally determined I would like this luxurious dish even more, if I switched the standard macaroni noodles to gnocchi.
Creamy gnocchi gratin is another favorite splurge, so it only made sense to combine the two.
This crab mac and cheese made with tender pillows of gnocchi, sweet crab meat, gruyere, and havarti cheese, has the essence of both a well-made gnocchi gratin and a baked mac and cheese casserole.
That means it delivers both the sense of intense luxury and down-home comfort. What could be better than that?
To top it all, it has a touch of warm spicy nutmeg that pairs so well with both the seafood and cheeses.
As we kick off the holiday season, I’m participating in a celebration of the “Seasonal Seven” Flavors that best capture the taste of the holidays, with McCormick Spices.
Elegant Old Luxembourg Dishes from Villeroy & Boch.
Each week leading up to Christmas, I will highlight one of the following flavors: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sage, vanilla, peppermint and poultry seasoning.
So today I’ve improved this indulgent crab mac and cheese casserole by kissing it with nutmeg for a little extra zip.
This gnocchi gratin would make a show-stopping addition to your Thanksgiving table, as well as a opulent main course for an intimate holiday dinner party.
If planning the latter, I suggest serving it with a warm spinach and pear salad and a glass of something bubbly!
For more sensational Thanksgiving dishes, check out McCormick’s Holiday Look Book.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Classic Gnocchi Gratin with Gruyere, Havarti and Crab Meat.
2 lbs. packaged gnocchi
1 lb. cooked crab meat
7 Tb. butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cups half and half
8 oz. shredded gruyere cheese
8 oz. shredded havarti cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
Chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil, and cooked the gnocchi according to the package instructions.
Drain the gnocchi and place in a 9X13 inch baking dish. Add the crab meat and mix.
In a large sauce pot (could be the same used for pasta) melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour followed by the garlic and lemon zest. Cook for another minute, then add the half and half and whisk until smooth.
Once the mixture is warm, add the cheeses. Stir to blend, then add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once smooth, taste for salt (add more if needed) and pour the cheese mixture over the crab and gnocchi. Mix and smooth in the baking dish.
Then melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the edges are bubbly and the top is golden.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve warm.