Over two years ago, Daring Cooks started and the first recipe chosen by founders Ivonne and Lisa was ricotta gnocchi from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. I loved the recipe and said so in the post I wrote about it, which ends with these words:
I will definitely make gnocchi di ricotta again soon.
Not only did I make then soon afterwards, but I have made them over and over again, much to my husband's delight. The routine goes like this: I make cheese1 using two gallons of milk, then I make ricotta with the leftover whey (siero di latte) and finally I make gnocchi with the ricotta. I decided to write another post on gnocchi di ricotta because I have a couple of better photos and additional notes.
I used to add a bit of milk to the whey to increase the yield, but I have not done so for quite a while. The yield is slightly different depending on the cheese (formaggio) made and the milk used to make the cheese. I drain ricotta in the traditional basket (sorry, lumps of curds are not my idea of ricotta) for a couple of hours, then unmold it in a bowl. At this point, I weigh it. Regardless of the yield, I devote about 10 oz. of ricotta to the making of gnocchi (+/- half an ounce).
The original recipe for ricotta gnocchi is available on this page, which includes Rodgers' introduction. I halve the quantities and increase that of ricotta (as explained above). If I know I will make gnocchi, I line the bowl where I store the ricotta with a cotton napkin doubled up, place the ricotta on it, and then cover with the napkin. I let the napkin absorb moisture overnight and I usually flip it half-way through.
The first thing you need to be patient about is the draining step, which prevents you from making this recipe on the spur of the moment. The other thing is the mashing of ricotta into a smooth, fluffy cream (see original recipe) as the first step of preparation.
In summary, here is the list of ingredients I use:
- 10 oz of my homemade ricotta
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of dried lemon zest
- 1/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about 2 tablespoons very lightly packed)
- about 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- all-purpose flour, for forming the gnocchi
The original recipe is rich in details pertaining all the steps. I must admit that I have never tested the gnocchi. However, I have never had any cooking failure. On this video, which I recommend watching, because it gives details on the preparation, you can see the gnocchi formed with a spoon. I use an oblong half-tablespoon measuring spoon to pick up and somewhat shape the ricotta. I place a heaping measure on my left palm and with a few light touches of my fingers I give the small lump a nice elongated shape, then deposit it in a baking pan with the bottom covered with some flour. I lightly shimmy the pan to flour four gnocchi at a time and then place them on a baking sheet or plate lined with wax paper dusted with flour, then refrigerate until ready to cook them. I get 18-20 gnocchi.
When it's time to think about how to dress your gnocchi di ricotta, remember two things: as Rodgers says, they are delicate in flavor, so choose something that leaves room to the ricotta flavor, and they are also delicate in texture, so toss them lightly. During the summer, I usually dress my gnocchi di ricotta with roasted cherry tomatoes from my CSA box or the farmers' market (photo above).
During the winter, I may use a bit of sage-infused butter (burro e salvia). My most recent batch (photo above) was dressed with a bit of roasted (sugarless) applesauce, another dish inspired by Judy Rodgers (of which I suspect you will read more on this blog soon).
Parting note: As usual, I suggest that you first try making this recipe in the reduced format I outlined to become familiar with it. Then, you can make a bigger batch, maybe as big as what you need for your Holiday guests.
1 Not all whey can be used to make ricotta. It depends on what kind of cheese was made to obtain it. Cheese-making recipes often tell you whether the whey can be used that way. For example, Jim Wallace's recipe for robiola states: "This whey will be too acid to use for ricotta but can be used for baking or cooking."
This post contains the roundup of the event.
I believe this recipe, bookmarked on the Epicurious website, also satisfies the requirements of Bookmarked Recipes, an event originally started by Ruth of Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments and now hosted by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the gnocchi di ricotta audio file [mp3].
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