Ricotta Gnocchi (Gnocchi di Ricotta) is an Italian favourite - they are so simple to prepare, incredibly comforting and delicious. These quick, light little dumplings are the easiest gnocchi to make and are ideal for experienced cooks and beginners alike. We have a few simple tips to help along the way to make the best Ricotta Gnocchi.
500g(1.1 lb) ricotta cheese - full fat/whole milk and well-drainedSee Note 1
60g(¾ cup or 2 oz) freshlygrated Parmesan cheeseSee Note 2
2largeeggs - lightly beaten
½teaspooncoarse saltSee Note 3
115-150g(¾ - 1 cup) plain/all-purpose flour - plus additional for dusting and rollingSee Note 4
Tomato Sauce (Optional):
2tablespoonextra virgin olive oil
1smallbrown onion - finely sliced
3clovesgarlic - minced
700ml(23 oz) tomato passata
60ml(¼ cup) water
½teaspooneach - dried basil, oregano and sugar
sea salt and black pepper - to taste
Prepare a baking tray by lightly dusting it with plain/all-purpose flour and set it aside.
After ensuring your ricotta is well-drained, add it to a medium-size bowl and thoroughly mash with a fork until smooth.
Add the Parmesan, lightly beaten eggs and salt to the ricotta and mix well to combine.
Mix in 115 g (¾ cup) flour and combine well. If necessary, add extra flour gradually. You are looking for a soft dough that holds together but is still slightly sticky – See Note 4.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to bring it together to form a ball. Do not over knead.If you are uncertain, you can test if the gnocchi will hold together. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, take a small amount of the dough and shape one gnoccho. Add it to the boiling water and if it rises to the surface and holds together, you are ready to roll out the dough. If not, slowly add extra flour until it holds its shape.
Take a small piece of dough, about ¼ cup, and on your lightly floured workbench, using both hands, roll it into a rope, about 1.25 cm (½ inch) in diameter. Use a sharp knife and cut into lengths of about 2.5 cm (1 Inch). You should use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your bench and dip your knife in the flour as necessary.
Add the gnocchi to the prepared baking tray, with a small space so they are not touching.Continue to roll the dough, adding flour as necessary.Loosely cover the tray of gnocchi with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. As ricotta has a short shelf life, I do not recommend making it more than 24 hours in advance.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. If your saucepan is not really large, you may need to cook the gnocchi in 2 batches.Add the gnocchi, stir very gently just once, and cook for 1– 2 minutes. When they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and add directly to your favourite sauce. Be sure to save some of your cooking water in case you want to thin your sauce.Serve with additional grated Parmesan.
If you have leftover, cooked gnocchi, they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Plain, unsauced gnocchi are delicious tossed in a frying pan with melted butter until heated through and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.If you have some uncooked gnocchi leftover and would like to freeze them, see Note 5.
For the Tomato Sauce (optional):
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onion for five minutes. Add in the garlic, and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, and simmer for fifteen minutes.
Ricotta: for the best result, buy a piece of fresh ricotta from good delis or the deli section of the supermarket. This ricotta tends to have less moisture as it has already been strained and you may only need to pat it dry with paper towel. If it is moist, drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl for a half-hour to drain off excess liquid and then pat dry with paper towel. Some ricotta sold in tubs is very damp and not ideal for general cooking. However, if this is all that you can buy you can strain it yourself. Put it in a fine-mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth, over a bowl in the fridge overnight. You would need about 600g to yield somewhere near 500g after straining. After straining, sit it on paper towel and pat it to remove further moisture. The ricotta must be well-drained to avoid the need to add a lot of flour, which would make the gnocchi heavy. See the Ingredients Shot for the type of ricotta we use.
Parmesan: use good quality, freshly grated Parmesan. My preference is Grana Padano; it has excellent flavour. Pre-grated Parmesan often contains an anti-caking agent which may affect its ability to melt into the gnocchi. Volume measurements can vary enormously depending on the size the cheese is grated. Weight is more accurate.
Salt: use coarse sea salt, not table salt which is much finer and too strong for this recipe.
Flour: only add extra flour if necessary. The amount will vary depending on the flour, the moisture in the ricotta and even the humidity. It is important to not add too much flour as it will mean dense, heavy gnocchi.
Freezing: the uncooked gnocchi can be frozen. Place them on a flat tray, cover with cling wrap and put into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a zip lock bag or airtight container and store for up to 6 weeks. You can cook them from frozen.
Nutritional Information: does not include the sauce the gnocchi is served with.