Gnocchi are Italian dumplings. There are many variations of Gnocchi out there. Potato, semolina, flour, ricotta, with or without spinach and other vegetables or prunes, bread crumbs and cornmeal. My husband strongly prefers the fresh made ricotta gnocchi that I make so much so that he has said on more than one occasion that my ricotta gnocchi would be his last meal if he could choose. These ricotta gnocchi are light in texture and very flavorful. They are done in the lump style, extruded from a pastry bag and are not rolled out. Less handling of the dough does produce a more tender gnocchi. Mine come out almost like gnudi. This recipe is harder to explain than most recipes I publish. I feel it’s essential to prepare your own ricotta cheese since it’s FAR SUPERIOR and far more flavorful than store bought ricotta cheese. Maybe the most difficult part of the recipe is that I can’t give you an exact measurement of flour since the amount with differ depending on how dry you got your ricotta cheese. You might want to prepare the ricotta the day before and let drain slowly overnight wrapped in cheese cloth in a colander to drain. If you use a mesh strainer to drain cheese I find you can get the same results very quick. I do recommend doing one tester gnocchi so you can figure the amount of flour out. It’s better to start with too soft a dough and add 1/4 cup more flour at a time till it’s correct. This time instead of my usual light coating of tomato sauce I used pesto. Other sauces that would be delicious with these gnocchi would be browned butter with sage or a light cream gorgonzola sauce or a home made red sauce. You will have extra ricotta cheese and extra pesto from this recipe that you either use in another dish or freeze. The pesto recipe is just a guild and it does come out too thick because I try to use as little extra oil as possible. FEEL FREE to add all the oil you want or some water to thin it down to desired consistency. Read all the directions first and the recipe will be much easier to understand.
Ingredient for about 6 servings
1 gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
3 lemons (just the fresh squeezed juice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups ricotta cheese (fresh made from above recipe)
1 L – XL egg beaten
1 cup parmigiana reggiano – shredded
1 1/2 cup flour *****NOTE this is approximate ******(…If your ricotta is nice and extra dry you only need one cup of flour. This would be ideal. Do tester gnocchi and add 1/4 cup flour more and repeat if necessary……you shouldn’t need more than 1 3/4 cups flour…if you do your cheese was way too wet)
few grates fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch white pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt (to boil gnocchi)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to coat gnocchi with so they don’t stick) ((YOU CAN SKIP THIS INGREDIENT if you have your pesto made)
3 cups basil leaves
2 garlic cloves – grated or ground
2 oz pine nuts – toasted – 225 degrees F 10-15 minutes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ****** ( you will need to thin this down by adding at least 1/2 cup more oil or water)
1/2 cup Italian hard cheese shredded preferably Sardinian Fiore Sardo or pecorino or parmesan
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
pinch or two of sugar
In a large pot on medium low heat add milk, cream and salt. The contents need to go to a slow boil. This will take at least an hour. Once it’s at a slow boil….VERY SLOWLY….SLOWLY drizzle in the lemon juice into the parts where it’s boiling. The contents will curd. Let it slowly boil a few minutes. Use a wire strainer or a colander lined with paper towels and slowly drain contents. Put cheese in a container in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be frozen.
Make the pesto.
Blend together basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, Italian hard cheese, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, black pepper and sugar. Thin as needed with either more oil or water and adjust seasoning if desired. Set to the side.
In a medium bowl mix together 2 cups of your fresh made ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 1 cup parmigiana, 1 cup flour, few grates nutmeg, 1/2 t. sea salt and a pinch of white pepper. Mix well.
Put a pot of salted water on to a medium boil. You might want to add kitchen twine to one side of the pot because the string can slice off the gnocchi you push threw the pastry bag.
To fill the pastry bag fold it half way down, add dough and twist the end shut.
Do one tester gnocchi.
It should float within a minute. Test for flavor and texture but it should be right. If you want them firmer you can add slightly more flour but a gnocchi is suppose to be a very light tender pillow. The best ones are made with as little flour as possible. Once you have the gnocchi the way you like them squeeze out the gnocchi one bag at a time and use twine wrapped on the pot handle to slice off each gnocchi.
let the gnocchi boil till after they float. Take them out with a slotted spoon and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil or pesto on them so they don’t stick together.
Serve. Should you happen to have leftovers they freeze well.
“All Beagles are Italian.” “There will not be any FORKING leftovers.”
“Hey Runt, you are only 50% Beagle so that means you are only 50% Italian”. “You are a runt and you come from a long line of runts…..according to your DNA your Mom was a runt, your dad was a runt and 6 generations back you all were runts!” “I’m a BIG Aussie Shepard and I’m getting Gnocchi first!”
“I still love you no matter what you say you really big beautiful Aussie Shepard.” “We can gnocchi together.”