Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ricotta Gnocchi

I have a problem: I love pasta.

I know it's not the best thing for me and all that, but I can't help it. It's delicious.

I especially love stuffed pastas--ravioli, and tortellini, and their friends. I only order them at restaurants though, because if you've ever looked at those little refrigerated packets of Buitoni at the supermarket...well, they're expensive. Extra delicious and extra tasty compared to dried pasta, but expensive.

Fortunately, I've found an alternative. Without the time and/or resources to go about making my own ravioli or other flour-based pasta, I've finally discovered a fresh pasta I can make with minimal time, effort, and special equipment: Ricotta Gnocchi. And did I mention it's cheap? Literally the only ingredient I had to buy was the ricotta cheese ($2.99 at Kroger); everything else I already had!

The original recipe comes from The Kitchn; the version I am posting contains just a couple of adjustments.
Strained ricotta, Parmesan, flour, egg, and salt.


1 15-oz container of part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

Your favorite pasta sauce

  1.  Drain the ricotta. Line a strainer with several coffee filters and place over a bowl; put the ricotta in the strainer and place the whole thing in the fridge for at least half an hour. (Not much drained out of my cheese--this step would be more important if you were using the whole-milk ricotta called for in the original recipe.)
  2. Combine the strained ricotta, egg, Parmesan, salt, and 3/4 cup of flour. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Gnocchi dough should be soft and tacky.
  4. Test a piece of dough by rolling it between your fingers. It should be tacky, but not sticky. If necessary, add more flour one tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency. (I didn't need to add any--perhaps because I had an ounce less cheese than the original recipe calls for.) Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.
  5. Roll a piece of dough between your fingers to see if it sticks.
  6. Flour your hands and work surface. Break off pieces of dough and roll them into 3/4" logs. Cut into lengths of 3/4". I found that it was easiest to roll out two or three logs at a time and cut them together.
  7. Special guests: fork and santoku knife.
  8. If desired, make ridges by rolling the gnocchi off the back of a fork. This is something I didn't really understand until I watched several people do it on YouTube, so look for a tutorial.
  9. Look at those beautiful ridges!
  10. Place gnocchi on a floured baking sheet until ready to use.
  11. Boil a pot of water and add the gnocchi in batches. Wait for them to float to the top then let them cook another minute or two before removing them to a strainer. 
  12. Put gnocchi in a bowl, add sauce, and serve!

A few observations...

It's been a long time since I've had potato gnocchi, so I'm not sure how this compares. But, they are tasty and delicious and very filling.

Rolled vs. unrolled gnocchi? I made some of each and they were both good. The rolled gnocchi tended to cook more evenly, since you sort of press them down to a uniform thickness on the fork. The unrolled gnocchi were sort of soft and fluffy on the insides, which I kind of liked. Both are good.

The recipe is supposed to serve 4. It made about 60 gnocchi. Because I was very hungry, I ate about 20 of them and then froze the others in two batches. (To freeze, place your floured baking sheet of gnocchi in the freezer until they harden, then put them in freezer bags).

Overall, an easy homemade recipe that I'll get three meals out of after spending about three dollars!

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