I’m a big fan of gnocchi, but I don’t have it often enough, mainly because I’ve always made it with potatoes which is a far more labourious process. This ricotta version does still require a little effort but is less time consuming, from this you get a light and creamy pasta with less heartache from boiling and cooling potatoes.
Gnocchi refers to the shape of the pasta rather than what it is made from – gnocchi is the plural of gnocco, which means ‘lump’ in italian – so they refer more to little dumplings rather than a specific ingredient.
This gnocchi can be served with any of your favourite sauces – a simple tomato, basil pesto, a cream sauce or sage butter. My new favourite is sundried tomato pesto, it is a great sauce because you can bring it together with storecupboard ingredients and a touch of parmesan.
I made do with normal supermarket ricotta here but if you can find something great from a deli or your local farm shop it will taste even better.
To make the Gnocchi
250g tub of ricotta
150g – 200g 00 pasta flour or plain white flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon parmesan or pecorino
salt and pepper
First you need to drain your ricotta, put it in a fine sieve over a bowl and leave for half an hour for any residual water to drip through.
Once your ricotta is ready add it to a large bowl with the egg yolk and seasoning, then your pecorino or parmesan. Stir to combine, then slowly add your flour in a few tablespoons at a time until you have a workable but slightly sticky dough. Make sure to add your flour in slowly so you can keep an eye on the consistency.
Knead the dough very lightly for a minute, the key to good and light gnochhi is to try not to work the dough too much. Cut it into two pieces and roll each piece out into a sausage shape about 1 inch thick.
Cut your dough into little 1 inch pieces. Transfer to a well floured plate or tray and refridgerate for at least 1 hour. If you want to freeze your gnocchi to use later, lay out on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer them to a freezer bag. Defrost fully before cooking.
To cook your gnocchi, add to a pan of simmering water and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until the gnocchi float to the top.
Remove with a slotted spoon as each one rises to the surface. If you are making the pesto below save a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
For extra texture you can fry your gnocchi after this step. Add oil to a nonstick pan and fry on a high heat for 1 – 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. This step is great because you get a crisp outside and a melty middle.
To make sundried tomato pesto
4 -5 sundried tomatoes
clove of garlic
about 10 pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan or pecorino
small bunch of basil – optional
salt and pepper
Blitz all your ingredients in a food processor until blended. Add more oil if it seems a little thick. This pesto is a little drier than basil pesto, you can use the saved cooking water from your pasta to make it more like a sauce.
To serve with your gnocchi very gentle toss the sauce with the hot gnocchi in a saucepan, being careful not to break up the gnocchi pieces.
Serve in warmed bowls with parmesan on top, we had ours with some garlic rubbed ciabatta too.