Friday, June 15, 2012

Ricotta gnocchi

Ricotta gnocchi is one of those dishes, where, if I remembered how easy and versatile (and yummy) it is, I'd make it all the time! So, it's probably good that my memory fades... But when I remember all over again, pull out the ricotta and enjoy making and eating these little dumplings, it is always a pleasant "oh, yes, these!" moment.

Ricotta gnocchi
Makes about 50 1-inch dumplings
1 15 oz container ricotta
3 eggs
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper

Drain the container of ricotta in a colander lined with paper towels, for a couple of hours or overnight. (The original instructions on epicurious don't call for draining the ricotta, but I like to (and plenty of other recipes point that direction). The dough is pretty soft as it is, so getting rid of some of the excess moisture--even if it's just onto the paper towels, or tea towel if you prefer--helps stiffen it up a bit and makes for easier handling.)

Place the ricotta and eggs in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add the flour gradually and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper a bit, maybe a teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of the peppermill.

Meanwhile, have a pot of water on a low boil, nothing too rolicking. Take two teaspoons and fill one about half full and use the second to push the dumpling off and into the water. Depending on the size of your pot, fill it with about 12-15 dumplings. Let them cook until they float to the surface, about 3-4 minutes. Collect them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or long handled strainer. Place into a bowl or on a tray until you're ready to use, and continue cooking the gnocchi until all the dough has been used up.

Now, what to do with these little bundles of cheesy goodness? Pretty much anything your heart desires! I treat them like pasta and combine them with tomatoes and basil and garlic and parmesan  (pictured above). I've also put them with marinara sauce, or a mushroom sauce. They are also very delicious pan-fried and tossed with parmesan and pinenuts (and kale, see below)... the options do seem to be endless, really.

I arrived at the world of gnocchi via the potato, but I have to say after making the ricotta gnocchi a number of times, I really do prefer the lightness (and cheesiness, of course) of this recipe. I first made them to accompany my very favorite beef recipe for dear friend Kate's bachelorette weekend, and topped them with a creamy basil and fresh corn sauce.

Since then I've tried these gnocchi in a variety of settings, and have to say a) it's a hard dish to ruin, and b) I do much prefer them warm. I toyed with the cool-to-room-temperature idea, extrapolating that they, like pasta, would work well as either a hot or cool dish. I was less than impressed with the cooler version--heavier feeling in your mouth, and less flavorful, in my opinion.

I hope you give these a try soon. So easy, and so good!

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