After flipping through some Cook’s Illustrated magazines recently for some new recipes to try, and I came upon a recipe for gnocchi. I have maybe only had it once in a restaurant, but after looking at the recipe I thought I would give it a try. In case you have never had gnocchi (pronounced “nyokee”) it is an Italian dumpling that is similar to pasta. It is often made from potatoes, but this recipe is ricotta cheese based. Gnocchi is considerably easier to prepare than fresh pasta, and makes a fantastic accompaniment to many dishes. It has a nice creamy texture, with a nice cheesy, herbal flavor. Make sure you use fresh herbs in this dish because they play a major role in the complex flavor of this dish. Next time you are looking for a new side dish I would recommend giving this recipe a try.
1 container whole-milk ricotta cheese (15 – 16 oz.)
2 large slices white bread, crusts removed and bread torn into quarters
1 large egg
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon table salt
- Line a fine-mesh strainer with 3 layers of paper towels and place over a bowl. Put in the fridge for an hour to drain.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. Take bread pieces and place in a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Spread the crumbs out on a half sheet pan and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool to room temperature.
- Put the ricotta into the food processor and process for eight, 1-second pulses and then place into a large bowl. Add the egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to the bowl. Add the flour, parmesan, and bread crumbs. Stir until combined and then place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- If the dough it too sticky, add a little bit of flour. Dust a surface with flour and take a lemon-sized piece of dough and roll it into a 3/4 inch thick rope (see image above). Cut the rope into 3/4 inch pieces and transer to a baking sheet line with parchment paper. Repeat until all the dough is converted to dumplings.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and the reduce to a simmer and start the sauce (see step 6). (If the water is boiling too harshly, then it may break the gnocchi apart). Add half of the gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi floats to the top. Then simmer the gnocchi for 2 more minutes longer and then remove with a slotted spoon. Let the water drain and add directly to the sauce.
- Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally. Simmer until browned about 1 1/2 minutes and it will release a nice nutty aroma (a burning smell or black specks in the butter is bad, wipe out the pan and start over). Add the sage and shallot off heat and let it cook for a minute. Toss with the cooked gnocchi and serve immediately. Garnish with Parmesan if you love cheese as much as I do.