Have you tried gnocchi? These ricotta gnocchi are fluffy pillows of goodness just waiting to take on whatever sauce you decide to pair them with. I love them with these meltingly tender short ribs (especially on a cold fall night like we’re experiencing here in Ohio), or sometimes I sauté them in a little butter and olive oil with a dash of lemon, some chopped herbs and a generous shaving of parmesan. Whatever you’re feeling, they’re a warm blanket of comfort you need to try soon… made in less than 30 minutes with just a handful of ingredients.
A couple of years ago Eric and I had the most amazing dinner at a restaurant that, unfortunately, is no longer around. Everything they made was from scratch and sourced locally- they even had their own farm, so we’re talking hyper-local. Anyway, we made it there three times before they closed and I ordered the same dish EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Which is totally not like me because I really enjoy trying new things. But they made these to die for ricotta gnocchi that were soft and pillowy inside and crisp and golden on the edges. That contrast between soft and crispy had me from the first bite. The gnocchi was topped with perfectly seasoned braised lamb and finished with tzatziki and pickled baby vegetables. While I haven’t had success (YET) recreating the entire dish I HAVE had success with these ricotta gnocchi and I hope you’ll try making them yourself. Soon.
Sometimes the simple things have the biggest payoff
I get really excited when I discover something that’s really simple but has a big payoff. This gnocchi is one of those things. You only need a few ingredients and 20 minutes of hands on time and you’ll be enjoying your very own delicious gnocchi. And they’re so versatile! Eventually I’m going to have a whole category for what you can do with gnocchi- top them with tomato sauce, meat sauce, pesto, brown butter, use them in cheesy-gooey bakes, soups and stews…really anything that would benefit from the inclusion of a fluffy, delicious dumpling. AND you can make a big batch and freeze them for later so you always have them on hand. Hello delicious and convenient.
Just a few steps and they’re ready to boil
So, I can’t talk about gnocchi and not include this picture of one of my favorite people in the world, my granddaughter Harper. Harper’s mom, Hannah (my oldest), lives less than 15 minutes away, so we get together every week for a collaborative dinner. On this particular day I was teaching Hannah how to make gnocchi. I decided to let Harper roll a few gnocchi first and that’s all it took for her to decide she was now the “gnocchi expert”. When it came time for Hannah to try her hand Harper was just a little concerned that her mom might not be doing it right. I LOVE this picture and crack up every time I look at it- her expression says it all! But this also reminds me of something else I think is important to keep in mind when we’re cooking and creating…
You don’t have to be perfect.
Your gnocchi do NOT have to look like a picture in a magazine. They just need to taste good. Ugly gnocchi taste just as good as pretty gnocchi. Seriously (and, really, who’s to say what’s ugly or pretty???)
I thought a lot about this when I was deciding what pictures to use for this post. I could have spent way more time than I needed choosing the most uniform and perfectly shaped gnocchi to carefully arrange on a baking sheet to look like they were randomly placed (you know what I mean), but that’s not real life. There’s a Japanese term I really love and relate to – “wabi-sabi”- have you heard of it? At it’s most basic it means to find the beauty in imperfection. Something about that just speaks to my soul. My gnocchi is wabi-sabi, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re real, and humble, and comfortable in their own skin…and they taste delicious!
Also, did I already mention that they’re versatile! So many options with gnocchi…
- 15 ounces ricotta ( I use whole milk, but part skim is fine)
- 2 cups flour, divided (if you have 00 flour, use it)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt (NOT table salt)
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Place ricotta, egg, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until it forms a soft sticky dough.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead in the remaining flour (flour your hands to make it easier) just until the dough no longer sticks to your hands (the dough will still be pretty soft, but no longer sticky). You don't want to over work the dough or your gnocchi will be tough.
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll them into ropes about an inch thick
- Cut each rope into sections about 1 inch wide (you'll get 15-18 per rope)
- You can either leave your gnocchi in their current shape or, if you prefer ridges like I do, roll them on the back of a fork or a gnocchi board
- As you shape your gnocchi lay them on a floured surface, not touching each other, until all gnocchi are formed
- If you're cooking the gnocchi right away: bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop gnocchi into the water and move them around with a wooden spoon so that they don't stick together. As they boil they'll begin to float, once they're all floating drain them in a colander and toss with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking.
- You have countless options at this point for finishing your gnocchi, the simplest being to stir them into your favorite sauce and let them simmer for a couple minutes more to finish cooking,
- If you want crispy on the outside, pillowy in the middle gnocchi (I know I do!), heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a wide skillet and, when it's melted and beginning to foam, add your drained gnocchi and stir occasionally for a few minutes just to crisp the edges (watch your heat, if it's too high they'll stick).
- NOW top with your favorite sauce, these fall apart short ribs or serve as is with a little salt, pepper, lemon zest, fresh parsley and some shavings of parmesan cheese
- Gnocchi freezes beautifully! See notes for how to freeze for later
- To freeze gnocchi: After shaping, but before boiling, arrange your gnocchi in a single layer on a parchment or foil lined sheet pan with sides (a jelly roll pan is perfect). Place pan in the freezer for 3 hours, until gnocchi is frozen solid. Use foil or parchment to lift frozen gnocchi forming a funnel and slide them into a large zip lock bag. squeeze out air and keep frozen for up to 1 month.
- When cooking frozen gnocchi do not thaw first. Place them directly into salted, boiling water and cook as for fresh gnocchi, waiting for them to float before draining. They'll take a little longer because they're frozen and you need to make sure your water is really boiling before adding them
- I always use kosher salt in my recipes, never table salt. Table salt is very fine and this makes it much saltier and harder to control when seasoning. My preferred brand is Diamond kosher. If you only have table salt use MUCH less and then go out and buy some kosher salt asap 🙂