Today’s post features a fourth kitchen, that of my friend Sam. Sam studied abroad with me in Florence last spring, and I frequently refer to her as my source for all things authentically Italian. She is a fantastic cook, and, although she lives across the street from me this semester, we never seem to have enough time to hang out or to cook. Travesty? I think yes.
This past Friday, however, we decided that we simply MUST catch up, so I made the arduous trek across the street to Sam’s house where we proceeded to make a delicious meal of ricotta gnocchi. Ricotta gnocchi is different from the gnocchi you usually find at restaurants because, well, there are no potatoes in them. I always consider them to be more like gnudi than gnocchi, but Mario Batali calls these gnocchi, and, thus, gnocchi they shall be.
These pillows of pasta were absolutely delicious, and they took far less time to make than traditional gnocchi as you do not need to boil any potatoes. While Mario suggests using goats milk ricotta and then draining it overnight, our local Safeway doesn’t seem to carry cheese of such high caliber. We went with regular Sargento ricotta and didn’t need to drain it, and it still tasted pretty delicious. We also added a bit of leftover goat cheese that I had in my fridge to get that tangy flavor. For the sauce, we made Sam’s Cherry Tomato Sauce which literally took about ten minutes to make. Not bad when one is starving.
Overall, this dish was a huge success. Major props to Sam for an awesome dinner! Here’s hoping you all enjoy this dish as much as we did.
Ricotta Gnocchi with a Cherry Tomato Sauce
While this recipe originally comes from Mario Batali, Sam and I made quite a few variations. The recipe below reflects our changes.
For the gnocchi:
- About 1.25 lbs of ricotta cheese (If you are using fresh goats-milk ricotta, you need to drain it overnight. If you are like us and are using something like Sargento, don’t worry about it)
- 3 oz goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 scant teaspoon salt (we added less because I rarely cook with salt)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (Mario calls for parsley, which would work well too)
- Ice cubes and water for ice bath
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons EVOO
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
For the pasta:
- In a large bowl, combine your ricotta, goat cheese, flour, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and basil. Mix until just combined, then, use a finger to make sure the dough is not too sticky. If it is, dust with some more flour and stir to combine.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Also, prepare an ice bath for your gnocchi.
- Cover a baking sheet with some wax paper or a clean kitchen towel. Dust well with flour.
- After flouring your hands, shape small, 1.5 teaspoon balls with the batter. Lay on the flour baking sheet until ready to cook.
- When your gnocchi have all been made, begin cooking them by slipping them into the boiling water one at a time. Only put in as much gnocchi as can freely float in the water.
- Cook until the gnocchi are firm and come up to the surface. This takes about 7 minutes. If the gnocchi come up before the 7-minute mark, cut one open to make sure that it is cooked thoroughly.
- Once the gnocchi have been cooked, remove from the boiling water and immediately put in the ice bath. After they have cooled, remove and put in a large bowl and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
For the sauce:
- Chop your tomatoes
- In a large pot, heat your olive oil on medium-high heat.
- Add in your cherry tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Then, add in your lemon juice
- Allow this mixture to come to a boil; then, cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- When the tomatoes have broken down, uncover and continue to cook until the sauce has reached the consistency that you like.
- Turn off the heat, and stir in your cheese.
- Use to top your favorite pasta!