pasta / primo recipes

ricotta gnocchi

September 6, 2015

there are some days where i really wish i had an affinity for healthy foods. some weeks i’ll try whole-heartedly, especially in the summer, to make colourful salads, only eat complex carbs, and not have sugar, but i always fail at faking it after a couple of days. my heart and stomach both just adore heavy, savoury foods.

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when i was visiting my family back home a few weeks ago, we had a giant dinner outside in the back yard. she made one of my favourites, homemade gnocchi in sauce. those are my favourite times; everyone sitting around the big table laughing and eating, my nona always trying to hand me more food (and me never saying no), and just flat out indulging. i wanted to make gnocchi again immediately after i got back to the city, and share it with people and apparently my nona thought the same thing; i texted my aunt a picture of my gnocchi ready to be boiled, and she told me nona was making them gnocchi at the exact same time. great minds and stomachs think alike.

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last weekend it started to almost feel like fall, and so i felt it was finally acceptable to make pasta. i feel so conflicted wanting fall weather. i’m always proclaiming my love of summer, but fall makes it acceptable to have the oven on all day roasting a chicken and veggies, or to start making rich soups and sauces. the miserable grey weather i know and hate is coming and pretty soon i’ll start to feel tired and cold all day, but the plus side is i won’t have to feel obligated to go outside when i just want to be inside cooking. so many mornings i wake up and have a million things i want to make and photograph, but i feel so guilty not taking advantage of the sun and being outside, especially after sitting in an office all week.

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this gnocchi was savoury and heavy and delicious – little clouds pan fried and tossed with mushrooms, peas, and prosciutto. so easy and quick to make and so versatile. making pasta is such a beautiful thing. how quickly a few very basic ingredients can come together and form something so filling and delicious is always beyond me.

ricotta gnocchi with peas, mushrooms and prosciutto

for the gnocchi
1 tub smooth full fat ricotta
1 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grate parmesan

strain the ricotta using cheese cloth until you get out as much moisture as you can. if you have time to let it sit on the cheesecloth over a bowl for about an hour, that should suffice.
in a large bowl, mix the strained ricotta, egg, cheese, salt, and 3/4 cup of the flour until all ingredients are incorporated. cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
check the dough by rolling a bit in your hand. it should be a bit tacky. if it clings to your fingers like bubble gum, incorporate more flour one tablespoon at a time until you reach a tacky, workable consistency. refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep it close to your workspace.
sprinkle your hands and work surface with a little flour. break off a tennis-ball sized piece of the dough and roll it into a thick log about 3/4-inch thick.
using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the log into 3/4″ pieces. if pan frying according to directions below,  leave them as little ‘pillows’ – this gives more surface to get browned. if serving with sauce, shape them into the traditional grooved gnocchi by rolling them off the back of a fork with your thumb – this creates little grooves that conveniently scoop up more sauce.
transfer this batch to the baking sheet and toss with flour to prevent sticking. repeat rolling process with the remaining dough.

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at this point you can follow the below directions to serve the gnocchi with a bunch of yummy salty umami deliciousness, or you can follow the first point to boil your gnocchi and serve with a simple tomato sauce (which is just as delicious, in a wholesome way). alternatively, you can freeze them as they are on the baking sheet then toss them into a zip-lock and keep them in your back pocket for up to a month.

sauce + extras
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fresh peas
few pieces of prosciutto
1 anchovy fillet
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup freshly grated parm
fresh pea shoots & chives (for serving)

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bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and half of the gnocchi. stir gently so that they don’t stick together. once they start bobbing to the surface, cook for approximately another 2 minutes and scoop them out, placing them in a strainer over a bowl. repeat with second batch until all gnocchi is cooked.
add about 3 tablespoons to your dried mushrooms and soak for 15 minutes, or the duration of time it takes to cook your gnocchi. drain the mushrooms and reserve the water for later use.
add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large cast iron pan. when it starts to brown and smell nutty, add gnocchi without crowding the pan. do this in two batches to make sure you get maximum crispiness. once browned, add to a baking sheet to set.
using the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the anchovy fillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it melts into the oil. add the prosciutto and cook for a few minutes, then add shallots and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until shallots soften, stirring frequently.
add the peas, mushroom stock, reserved water from the mushrooms and stir well scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (these are the best parts). add the freshly grated parm and stir well.
add the gnocchi and toss to coat. cook on high heat for a few seconds if you need the sauce to thicken up.
serve immediately with more freshly grated parm (obviously), a couple of pea shoots, and finely chopped chives.

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