Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto Cream Sauce

I've wanted to try my hand at gnocchi for a long time now. The most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated had this recipe for ricotta gnocchi among it's pages and I took it as a sign for me to finally pop my gnocchi cherry so to speak. The recipe came with a few pan sauces, but I was in the mood to make pesto, so that's what I did. I'm sure I'll try the other pan sauces some other time, especially considering one calls for fresh sage, which I just happen to have a shit load of in my herb garden.

So first for the pesto I consulted one of my favorite blogs, simply recipes and used her pesto recipe which was just fabulous. I made a double batch, filled an ice cube tray with the extra sauce and froze it for use at a later date. The ice cube tray allows me to just use a few cubes at a time depending on how much I need. Very cool.

For the pesto cream sauce I used about a half cup of the pesto and heated it in a saucepan with about 3/4 of heavy cream, and just let it simmer until I was ready to add the gnocchi to it.

I then went on to making the ricotta gnocchi which was super easy, and as you can see by the picture, came out friggin awesome.

Ricotta Gnocchi - America's Test Kitchen
1 container whole-milk ricotta (15- or 16-ounce)

2 large slices white sandwich bread , crusts removed and bread torn into quarters
1 large egg
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour , plus additional for work surface
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

1. FOR THE GNOCCHI: Line fine-mesh strainer set over deep container or bowl with 3 paper coffee filters or triple layer of paper towels. Place ricotta in lined strainer, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. Spread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes, stirring once during baking time. Let cool to room temperature. (You should have about 1/2 cup crumbs.)

3. Transfer drained ricotta to food processor and pulse until curds break down into fine, grainy consistency, about eight 1-second pulses. Using rubber spatula, combine ricotta, egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add flour, Parmesan, and bread crumbs; stir until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes. Check texture of dough (see photos below) and add more flour if needed.

4. Lightly dust work surface with flour. With floured hands, roll lemon-sized piece of dough into 3/4-inch-thick rope, rolling from center of dough outward. Cut rope into 3/4-inch-long pieces and transfer to parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, dusting work surface with flour as needed.

5. TO COOK GNOCCHI: Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Reduce heat so water is simmering, then gently drop half of gnocchi into water and cook until all pieces float to surface. Continue to simmer until gnocchi are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer, adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer. Using slotted spoon, scoop gnocchi from water, allowing excess water to drain from spoon; transfer gnocchi to skillet with sauce and cover to keep warm. Repeat cooking process with remaining gnocchi. Using rubber spatula, gently toss gnocchi with sauce until uniformly coated. Divide among warmed bowls or serving platter and serve immediately.

STEP BY STEP: Proper Dough Consistency
Gnocchi dough should be moist and slightly tacky to the touch. When the proper consistency is achieved, a few crumbs should stick to your finger. If the dough is too wet and a lot of crumbs stick to your finger, stir in additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Rating = So God Damn Good


Anonymous said...

That looks so good -- I am drooling on my keyboard. I would love to give it a try -- did it take a long time from start to finish.

I am so slow in the kitchen especially with new things.

I also freeze pesto in cubes -- so convenient. I also do that with things like tomato paste .... but for that I freeze blobs.

Great picture!

JB said...

I actually am pretty slow in the kitchen too, and this took no time at all, I just made sure that I had everything set up ahead of time, so while I was making the gnocchi I could just line them up on the cookie sheet and keep moving.

I'm so glad you posted because I never know what to do with my left over tomato paste. It never fails that a recipe calls for 1ybs tomato paste, but I bought a 6 oz jar. From now on I will definitely put it in the freezer. Thanks for the idea.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried it but many buy the tubes of tomato paste -- I've seen it at Whole Foods. This way you just use what you need for a recipe and I think refrigerate the tube.