When I was little, my mother (and grandmother) used to use a wooden board to make gnocchi. They would clean the kitchen to get ready, bring the board up from the basement, make the dough with potatoes they had cooked and mashed, cut off a chunk of dough, roll into a thin log, cut into 1 inch pieces, push against a fork to make the customary “gnocchi lines” that are supposed to “catch” the sauce, boil the water, dust the gnocchi with flour, boil them, add the sauce…
They are awesome (and I still like to make them on the board that I inherited – I swear I can feel my grandmother beside me when I do it!), but they are time consuming, a bit messy and hard to judge because you have to know how moist and old the potatoes are to see how much flour you need. More often than not, they turn out hard because we add too much flour (kind of like pie pastry!).
So here is a fool proof way to make gnocchi – use ricotta in place of flour. You pretty much use the same measurements all the time and they tend to be fluffier that most potato gnocchi. And, best of all, you can use the piping bag trick (I’ll show you later) to make the process go quickly!
So, andiamo cottura…let’s get cooking!!!
2 (300 g) containers ricotta cheese – just over 2 cups
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c grated parmigiano cheese
2 tsp salt
For mushroom ragu:
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c diced pancetta (optional, but yummy!)
3 c diced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of cream of half and half (about 1/4 c…or you can use some pasta water)
1/2 c grated parmigiano truffle oil (again, optional but yummy!)
1. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, flour, parmigiano and salt. Mix together until it is all incorporated.
3. It should look sort of like this (I didn’t add all of the flour here yet!)…a thick dough but not as tight as you would think.
4. Put it in a large Ziploc bag and snip the end off…
5. Now, boil a pot of water (salted well). While you are waiting, you can start the sauce below or warm up some meat sauce. When the water is boiling, grab a pair of kitchen scissors and while you squeeze to push out the dough, snip it into the water (watch the video on my Instagram account for more instruction). Wait for the gnocchi to float to the top (it should only take a couple of minutes…no more than 3).
…you can even try this trick…tie a string (it has to be really tight) across the handles of the pot and, as you are pushing out the dough, slide it across the string to cut off the pieces.
6. In a large pan, heat the oil and crisp up the pancetta; remove it to another plate.
7. Add the onion and soften a bit; then add the mushrooms and salt/pepper (the salt will release the water in the mushroom and soften them more quickly). Once they are soft, add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
8. Add the splash of cream (or pasta water) and parmigiano; stir to combine.
9. Now, add the gnocchi to the mushroom ragu and gently combine. Plate it all up, drizzle with truffle oil (it really does make a huge difference in this dish), sprinkle with crispy pancetta and shave some parmigiano on top.
10. Or you can just heat up some sauce (this was some meat sauce that I had) and grate some cheese on top.
And, as my cousin says…”winner, winner, gnocchi dinner!”
Now, go on…mangiare!!