Baked gnocchi with blue cheese and spinach

Rachel Walker

This comforting January dish is made all the better by using up nub ends of the Christmas cheeseboard. A white sauce is an excellent vehicle for leftover stilton, just grate hard cheeses so they melt into the sauce

Serves 4

• 50g butter

• 50g plain flour

• 500ml milk

• 50g blue cheese, crumbled

• 50g hard cheese (cheddar, pecorino), grated (plus extra for sprinkling)

• ½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg

• 500g supermarket gnocchi

• 200g fresh spinach

• 50g walnuts

To serve:

• Italian salad (ideally bitter red leaves, eg, radicchio)

• 2L baking dish, greased with butter

• ½ lemon, squeezed

1. Start by making the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and when it starts to foam add the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix it into a thick, walnut-sized paste. Cook this until it turns a golden-straw colour and gives off nutty aromas.

2. Take the pan off the heat as you add the first slosh of milk and whisk it until combined. Keep adding the milk bit by bit, until it has all been used up and then return the sauce to the heat, stirring until it’s silky-thick. Take the pan off the heat, add the cheese and let it melt in the hot sauce, add the nutmeg and then set to one side.

3. Next, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or sieve to remove the gnocchi from the water and transfer to a colander. Next, add the fresh spinach to the water and simmer for 45 seconds until it wilts. Drain and then stir the gnocchi and spinach into the cheese sauce. Transfer into a greased baking dish, top with a little extra grated cheese. Put the baking dish in an oven (200°C) cook for 10-12 minutes until bubbling and golden round the edges.

4. Sprinkle walnuts over the baked gnocchi and serve with a simply-dressed Italian salad.