Why Ricotta Gnocchi?
These light and fluffy dumplings are a delicious alternative to pasta, and better yet they are so simple to make.
In Italian gnocchi means dumpling, to the Florentines they are known as topini, translation: field mice, because they look like such in shape and size. Gnocchi are commonly made from potato and flour. However, my recipe for ricotta gnocchi are made from almost all ricotta cheese, and just a hint of flour and egg to keep them together making them ever so light.
Unlike their potato alternative, which can carry anything from a light tomato based sauce to a rich meaty stew; ricotta gnocchi are just luscious with a drizzle of melted 'nutty' butter, some herbs and Parmesan.
To be honest with you, if you haven’t already been able to tell, I love these dumplings, and have been craving them all week so I thought I would share them with you.
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (not the pre-grated stuff)
4-6 tablespoons plain flour
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper and a good pinch of nutmeg in a large bowl and mix. Add the flour and fold through. You are looking for a 'dough' that is just soft to the touch.
On a lightly floured surface spoon a heapful of the ‘dough’ onto the surface. Sprinkle more flour onto your hands and lightly roll into sausages a little wider than your thumb.
Don’t worry if the dough feels too wet and soft. It should be. If it sticks to your hands or work surface, feel free to add more flour. This recipe for ricotta gnocchi is meant to be light and should feel soft (that is what makes them so light and gorgeous to eat). Cut the sausages with a sharp knife lightly floured, into lengths about 1.5 cm.
Gently place them on a floured plate or chopping board and leave until time to cook.
These gnocchi can be made anywhere up until the day ahead. You just need to keep them covered in single layers, not touching in the refrigerator.
To cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat down slightly so that the water is simmering, remember that these dumplings are delicate.
Lower the gnocchi, a couple at a time, on a slotted spoon or spatula into the water. I usually cook up to 10 at a time. You can vary this amount just remember you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Boil them until they float back to the surface, this usually is about 2 minutes. Remove from the water and place on a warm serving dish, and repeat until all are cooked.
I usually serve a simple butter with these gnocchi, as I don’t want to take away from their feather-light deliciousness with a heavy overpowering sauce that you can serve with any pasta.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Butter, basil and pine nuts
50g pine nuts
1 bunch basil
Parmesan to serve
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a low heat until golden. When your gnocchi are cooked and placed in a warm serving dish, melt the butter in a hot saucepan. When the butter is sizzling and starting to look golden brown toss in a good handful of torn basil and pour over the gnocchi. Serve with a sprinkling of the toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan.
Alternatively you can substitute the basil and pine nuts for sage and flaked almonds.
2 tablespoons cream
75g Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Flat leaf parsley chopped to serve
For something a little richer, before cooking your gnocchi melt butter and cream in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the Gorgonzola and stir until all are creamy about 1 minute. Turn off the heat until your gnocchi are cooked. When cooked, heat the sauce and pour over your gnocchi. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.