Monday, February 22, 2010

Ricotta Gnocchi

Potato gnocchi seems complicated to make. Cook potatoes, mash potatoes, mix the dough, shape the pasta, etc, etc. Ricotta gnocchi, however, is really simple and I think it tastes better- potato gnocchi is sometimes gummy to me. This is comfort food at it's best. We ate it twice last week because it's so easy and homey (I still haven't quite gotten the cooking bug back yet). Seriously, make this now before it gets spring comes along and all you want is salads and bbq. Or maybe that's just me.

serves 4

  • 1 (16-ounce) container of whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 - 1 cup flour

Set a strainer line with three coffee filters or paper towels over a bowl. Add the ricotta and let the cheese drain for about an hour. (This can be done several days in advance.)

In a large bowl, mix the strained ricotta, egg, cheese, and 3/4 cup of the flour until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Check the dough by rolling a bit in your hand. It should be a bit tacky. If it clings to your fingers like bubble gum, incorporate more flour one tablespoon at a time until you reach a tacky, workable consistency. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.

Before shaping, put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and set it close to your work space.

Sprinkle your hands and work surface with a little flour. Break off a tennis-ball sized piece of the dough and roll it into a thick log about 3/4-inch thick.

Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the log into 3/4" pieces. You can leave them as little 'pillows' as in the photo above or shape them into the traditional grooved gnocchi by rolling them off the back of a fork with your thumb.

Transfer this batch to the baking sheet and toss with flour to prevent sticking. Repeat rolling process with the remaining dough.

Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and half of the gnocchi. Gently stir the gnocchi to make sure they don't stick. Once they bob to the surface, let them cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander set over a bowl to finish draining.
Repeat with second batch of gnocchi.

Toss the gnocchi with sauce and serve immediately with sauce- I like a chunky tomato sauce as per below- and Parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi can be frozen as well- freeze gnocchis (that would the plural form of gnocchi, thank you very much) on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. Cook gnocchi from frozen, they'll take a minute or two longer.


Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds- don't let garlic brown. Add a can of drained diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and some dried herbs if you like (or add fresh herbs at the end) i.e. basil, thyme, oregano. Cook until heated through.

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