Monthly Archives: May 2011

Ricotta Gnocchi

My mom gave me a cookbook a few years back – Rosalie Serving Italian. Rosalie is an Italian American woman who just decided that she needed to share her family recipes…and thank God she did.

The thing about authentic Italian food is that it’s not ingredient-packed. There’s not really a “secret spice.” Fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs and great cheese can all speak for themselves — its just mostly a matter of the technique used to combine them.

Gnocchi means “knuckle” in Italian, which makes sense because that’s kind of what they look like. I’ve been wanting to make gnocchi for a long, long time. The problem is that I don’t have a potato ricer, which you definitely need to make classic potato gnocchi (shameless buy-me-this plug). But Rosalie’s cookbook offers a recipe for ricotta gnocchi, a traditional Florentine dish. This was an attractive idea to me because a) it’s lighter, b) it doesn’t require kitchen equipment that I don’t have (shameless plug strikes again), and c) I’d never had it before. Also, the flavor of ricotta is so light that it can be easily melded with just about anything.

Since the ricotta flavor is so mild, I’d recommend flavoring them up a bit, like I did with basil. You can most definitely do that with a jazzy sauce, but I chose to let the gnocchi stand alone for the most part.

Ricotta Gnocchi 

adapted from Rosalie Fiorino Harpole

1 eight-ounce container of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 stick butter and 3 cloves garlic, chopped

1. Mix the ricotta, eggs, flour and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let dough firm up.

2. When dough is firm, it should be a little sticky…but not too sticky to work with. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and split the dough in half. Working in portions, roll the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the ropes crosswise, making about 1/2 inch dumplings. Keep the gnocchi floured while you’re working to avoid them sticking together.

3. Boil a large pot of salted water and drop in the gnocchi. (I did this in two batches to avoid clumping). Cook the gnocchi while stirring gently until a few minutes after they’ve risen to the top of the boiling water.

4. To make garlic butter sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Throw in the chipped garlic and saute until fragrant. Toss dumplings in sauce, garnish with basil and serve immediately.



Cinco de Guac

 Guacamole is one of those recipes that I think everyone should have up their sleeve. Everyone loves it, it easily serves a crowd, and it’s so simple to make. But unfortunately, I’ve been to lots of restaurants and seen lots of pre-packaged stuff (YUCK) that can’t  seem to handle the stuff. I mean, how hard is it to mash up some avocados and mix in some fresh ingredients?   I think the main issue is that people just try to over season the guacamole to compensate for the mildness of the avocados, which is largely unnecessary and ends up spoiling your chips and dip.

Fresh ingredients are key. I was lucky enough to find avocados at 3 for $1 at Sunflower Market, so naturally I bought six. The reason they were so cheap though was because they were so under ripe. They were green as can be and I needed to make guac in 48 hours. There’s an awesome and easy trick to solve this problem. Take your avocados and wrap them in something opaque – I used a brown paper grocery bag – and then tuck them away in a cabinet or drawer…somewhere they’ll stay in the dark. Voila! 48 hours later you’ve got soft, ripened avocados!


5 ripe avocados, mashed

1/4 small red onion, chopped

1/2 fresh tomato, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 3 limes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with chips.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!