My first taste of gnocchi many years ago was potato gnocchi. Usually at a restaurant. And usually a bit heavy and a bit rich so I could never actually finish the dish. That was my idea of gnocchi.
A few years later (but still years ago) (before the Food Network and Cooking Channel) the Learning Channel had cooking shows. My favorite was Biba Caggiano’s. She’s from Bologna, married an American and moved with him to live in Sacramento, CA. She started teaching friends how to cook in the grand (but still home-made) Bolognese style.
Then she got a cooking show. And she’s written several cookbooks. And I began to follow her show and get all her books. I even got to meet her at an event in NYC and had my picture taken with her which hung in my NYC kitchen for many years. I also videotaped (from the TV on a VCR) almost all of her episodes. And re-watched them.
On day Biba made ricotta gnocchi. Not with potato. With ricotta. I watched her do it and it made perfect sense. I soon got the ingredients and went into my kitchen and made them, too, and they came out beautifully the very first time. She had easily and expertly passed on the skill through TV but I felt like it was also through some kind of cooking osmosis.
These ricotta gnocchi were not heavy at all. You could easily eat a large bowl of them dressed with a simple tomato sauce (I like a tomato sauce with a light touch of cream and added peas OR a pesto sauce with some string beans cut to bite-sized and boiled with the gnocchi).
Mind you, I have since learned potato gnocchi, too. And I’ve learned to make them very light. Yay! It’s just knowing what you’re doing. But guess what? IT’S EASY!!!
RICOTTA GNOCCHI (for 2-4 people depending how much you like to eat)
1 lb. ricotta
3/4 cup grated parmigiano
1 1/4 cups flour
salt & pepper to taste
Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated cheese and 1 cup of the flour. Using a large spoon gently mix together the ingredients until they have smoothly combined. If it’s a little too sticky, add the remaining 1/4 of flour. Season with a health pinch of both salt & pepper. You can, if you like, add some chopped herbs, too. About a 1/4 cup: chives, basil, or tarragon…etc.
Pull a piece of dough off, about the size of a lemon. On a very lightly dusted surface, roll the dough gently into a log about 1/2-inch thick. Using a paring knife, cut from the log 1/2-inch pieces of dough.
That’s your gnocchi.
You can give each gnocchi piece some grooves by gently pressing each piece against a gnocchi board or gently across the back of a fork (the tines make grooves just as good!).
Toss your gnocchi with a little flour and place them, in a single layer, on a sheet pan dusted with a little flour. Until you’ve made them all. Boil them like pasta (they take just 2-3 minutes). Gently lift them from the water when done with a small colander or slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Add your chosen sauce and gently stir to coat the gnocchi. Eat right away. Gnocchi (like pasta) waits for no one!
(Once you’ve made the gnocchi and they are still on the sheet pan in one layer, you can freeze them like that. When they turn to little rocks, you can store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. To cook, don’t defrost. Just throw the frozen gnocchi in the boiling water. They will cook just as quickly as the fresh ones.)