A long time ago I shared a house with a friend of mine who was of Italian descent. Part Sicilian, part Neapolitan his parents always made sure the house was stocked with home made goodies.
Every month there would be a delivery of bottled tomato sauce, home made lasagna, crostoli and his mothers home made gnocchi.
Out of all the food items that made their way to the pantry and freezer it was the gnocchi I lusted after. These bite sized morsels of "cloud-like softness" were just irresistibly perfect.
They were always the first to go.
My few attempts at making home made gnocchi using potatoes proved "so-so". I think my biggest mistake was over-working the dough. They were edible but they weren't anything special.
A little online research revealed that gnocchi vary from region to region and even household to household in Italy. Some use semolina, some are made with breadcrumbs but the one that caught my eye was the gnocchi made with ricotta. There were literally a myriad of recipes all calling for different amounts of flour, eggs and types of ricotta.
A few practice runs later, I think I have a recipe that works for me.
If you attempt this recipe for ricotta gnocchi please note that it's fresh ricotta I use. It can be purchased from any specialised deli or cheese shop. If the ricotta is a little too moist, dry it out by placing it in a colander in the fridge to drain any excess liquid.
Once the ricotta gnocchi were quickly boiled I finished them off with a burnt butter sauce and topped them with freshly cracked pepper and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Just a warning: these may be "light" in texture but they are very filling! 6-8 pieces per person is quite sufficient if serving it as a starter.
- 350 grams of fresh, drained ricotta
- 1/2 a cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 10-12 tablespoons of plain flour
- 2 small eggs or 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- a pinch of salt
- Place the ricotta, Parmigiano, eggs, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and stir until everything is well combined
- Add your flour tablespoon by tablespoon combining after each addition until you have a soft dough. The dough should be workable-not too soft and sticky and not too firm.
- Knead the dough gently and form into a ball. Divide into 6 portions
- Proceed to roll out each portion into a long rope shape-the rope should be about 2 cm thick
- Using a floured knife, proceed to cut the rope into 2 cm portions (these will form our gnocchi). Place on a baking paper lined tray.
- Cook the gnocchi in some salted boiling water-these are cooked when they float to the top
- Top with your favourite sauce-I served mine with burnt butter, pepper and cheese
This sauce could easily be enhanced with some herbs-rosemary and the classic sage are good.