Oh so fluffy…pillowy soft and flavorful… that’s how to describe these homemade ricotta gnocchi. We oohed and aahed after every bite.
Every summer, free from the distractions of work, we set goals – projects to push ourselves as we explore passions and interests. This summer we decided to focus on things culinary. With three different Culinary Institute of America courses from The Great Courses waiting for us to dive into, we donned aprons, dusted off the DVD player, and got our notebooks ready for shopping lists, culinary tips and instructions.
Today’s challenge was ricotta gnocchi. We had made roasted squash gnocchi back in Alaska, so the concept of this delicious handmade pasta was not new to us, but this time we were anticipating a more traditional version of this classic dish. We began preparing for this batch of gnocchi a couple of days in advance by making a homemade ricotta-type cheese. You can find that easy-to-prepare recipe here. This surprisingly easy to make cheese is perfect for this gnocchi recipe, or you can use store-bought ricotta. Whether you make your own ricotta or buy it, you’ll want to let it dry out a bit by hanging it in cheesecloth overnight in the refrigerator.
Our CIA instructor, Chef Bill Briwa, began by making the dough and then rolling it out into long logs which he then cut into bite-sized pieces. He gave each piece a decorative pinch between his thumb and forefinger. As an alternative method of giving gnocchi a pleasing shape, I recalled seeing a video in which Italian grandmothers rolled the gnocchi down the back of a long-tined dinner fork to create decorative ridges to hold the sauce. With a lifetime of experience behind them, these women worked with incredible speed! Determined to make the Italian grannies proud, Jack and I quickly (although not as quickly as these women) rolled logs of dough, sliced bite-sized pieces, and rolled our gnocchi down the backs of forks. Given our lack of experience and how quickly and attractively the gnocchi came out, we clearly had good teachers.
And the result? Oh my. We made a light sauce featuring butter, olive oil and garlic, sliced fresh summer squash thin on a mandolin, added a few halved cherry tomatoes, and briefly cooked up the sauce. It was perfect on the pillowy, flavorful gnocchi, as was the chilled bottle of Spanish Chardonnay we served. Fantastico!
- 1 1/2 cups dry ricotta (if you don’t want to make your own, you could hang store bought ricotta in cheesecloth overnight to reduce extra moisture)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- salt and pepper
- semolina flour for dusting
- Mix together ricotta, Parmesan cheese, flour, and nutmeg.
- Thoroughly mix in eggs.
- Mix in butter.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle working surface with semolina. Use a fairly generous amount. This will absorb the excess moisture while the dough rests.
- Take 1/4 of the dough and roll it into a long log.
- Cut bite-sized pieces and set them aside on a piece of parchment paper.
- Repeat with remaining quarters of dough.
- Cook gnocchi in salted, simmering water. Gnocchi will float to the top when they are finished cooking.
- Gnocchi is more delicate than other pastas. So it’s best to remove it gently with a slotted spoon or similar tool. Serve immediately with a light sauce.
Gnocchi freezes well. Initially freeze while on parchment paper on a tray in order to keep the gnocchi separate, then transfer to a zip top bag.
You guys are so talented! I make them in a rustic way, but I’ve never bothered to attempt to make those beautiful ridges!
Watching the videos of the Italian women making these (and other pastas) makes us want to go to Italy to take a cooking class!