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.
adapted from Rosalie Fiorino Harpole
1 eight-ounce container of ricotta cheese
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.