Let's talk about peas. I am not a fan of peas. I've never been a fan of peas. I do not eat them by themselves. I just can't do it. I remember when I was a kid and I went to my best friends house and her mom served peas with dinner. I didn't want to be rude so I acted like I liked them. I ended up putting half of them in my mashed potatoes and gagging them down but I couldn't eat the rest of them.
Fast forward to today. I still don't like peas. I will eat them in soups or in dishes where you can't really taste them. I do feed them to my son and he seems to enjoy them but I still have a hard time with them. I'm not sure if it is so much the taste or more the texture of them that bothers me. In any case, I don't like them.
So when I found a recipe for Gnocchi Mac and Cheese with Peas my first thought was to make the recipe without the peas. The more I thought about it the more I thought that was a bad idea. Mac and cheese isn't the healthiest recipe in the world and the peas would add some nutritional value and they are a vegetable. Plus I figured J would eat the mac and cheese and sometimes it's hard to find soft vegetables for him to eat.
I went ahead and made the recipe with the peas. I'm glad I did because this dish is super rich and cheesy. The gnocchi is potato based so it is heavy and there is a lot of cheese in this recipe. The peas add a pop of color and a bit of lightness to the mac and cheese.
This is a great comfort food perfect for a cold winter night. It is warm, cheesy, and totally delicious. I used several different types of cheese but you can use your favorites as long as you have the total amount of cheese. I used cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda. I thought it was a nice combination of flavors.
My husband, J, and I all had this for dinner and I think we all enjoyed it. I ended up taking leftovers for lunch the next day and it was just as good reheated. My husband suggested that next time I add in pancetta or bacon and I think he's right. It would add some color and a bit of saltiness to the dish which would be really nice.
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 T. butter
- 2 T. flour
- 2 c. milk
- 1½ c. shredded cheese
- 2 T. brown mustard
- 2 c. frozen peas, thawed
- salt and pepper
- 1 t. oregano
- 1 lb. potato gnocchi, cooked
- In a medium skillet heat two tablespoons of butter over medium high heat until it is melted. Add in the leeks and cook for 7-8 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove the leeks and garlic to a plate.
- Add the remaining butter and melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the flour begins to turn pale yellow, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture has thickened.
- Add in 1¼ cup cheese and mustard. Stir until cheese has melted.
- Stir in the leeks, garlic, peas, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook for one minute.
- Stir in the gnocchi.
- Sprinkle with additional ¼ cup of cheese and put in the oven. Broil for 2-3 minutes.