Made with only a handful of ingredients, this crab bake couldn’t be easier to whip together. Loaded with pillowy gnocchi, handfuls of spinach, and hunks of sweet bairdi crab, the substantial dish is perfect for feeding a crowd.
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 (about 2 pounds) bairdi crab cluster
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 (5 ounce) package spinach
- 1 (16 ounce) package gnocchi
- 1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Grease a 7-inch by 11-inch baking dish with the butter.
In a large wok or skillet, add 1 inch of water and the crab and bring to a boil. Cover and steam just until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Crack the crab shells and pick out the crabmeat. (You should have about 2 cups.) Reserve the shells for another use.
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Make gnocchi bake
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the milk. Once the milk begins to simmer, add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Add the gnocchi, 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper, and crab meat, and stir until combined.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Pair it Up
A rich white wine, like a lightly oaked Chardonnay or a northern Italian white, plays well with the richness of the cream and cheese while simultaneously providing a welcome acidity.
Level it Up
Stir in tender, sautéed leeks along with the gnocchi for delicate onion flavor.
Change it Up
Cover and rewarm leftovers in the oven or microwave. Refresh by stirring in a few tablespoons of water or milk.
Lighten it Up
Low-fat cream cheese is an OK substitute, but a better option is to reduce the amount of full-fat cream cheese to 4 ounces and increase the milk (low-fat is ok) to 1 ½ cups.
Know Your Cook
Alexis deBoschnek is a recipe developer and host based in the Catskills in Upstate, NY. She was formerly the Senior Test Kitchen Manager at BuzzFeed's Tasty, and has contributed recipes to Food52, The Kitchn, Tasting Table, and Chowhound. She's currently working on her first cookbook which is coming out next year.