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Gnocchi 5

Gnocchi has a permanent place in my repertoire. On average, I have it once or twice every six weeks. I usually make ricotta gnocchi because it’s lighter and lends itself to more dishes than the usual potato kind. There are variants made with chestnuts, semolina and corn meal but these are less-known, not to mention I’m unfamiliar with a couple of them.

Ricotta gnocchi with corn and heirloom tomatoes

Click here for a high-resolution version of this picture.

Recipe and demo after the jump.

The following recipe is an adaptation of Suzanne Goins’ version from her cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I posted a demo a while back but it’s probably best to repost it here instead of making readers click back to a blog post from three months ago.

For this recipe, you will need the following:

1 cup flour
1 cup cow’s milk ricotta or sheep’s milk ricotta, drained
1 egg
pinch of kosher salt
freshly milled black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
extra flour for rolling

The day before you make the gnocchi: You’ll want to drain the ricotta of any excess moisture. Place it in a strainer or colander or double-wrap it in cheesecloth. Suspend over a bowl and let it drain for 12 to 24 hours, refrigerated. Cheesecloth is more efficient as it absorbs moisture from the ricotta while gravity does the rest of the work. To test the ricotta for moisture, place a scant teaspoon on a paper towel and wait 5 minutes. If the ricotta leaves any moisture behind, it’s not ready for use.

Combine 1 cup ricotta cheese and 1 cup flour in a large bowl and mix with a fork, making sure to break up any large lumps. Ideally the mixture should eventually look like this:

Make a well in the center, add 1 egg, a pinch of kosher salt, some freshly milled black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Starting at the inside of the well, slowly fold the egg into the flour with the tines of a fork in a circular motion or until the mixture forms into a soft, pliable dough.

You’ll want to knead the dough as little as possible. Shape the dough into a ball, then divide it into four portions. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Lightly flour a cutting board or your work area. You want enough flour so that the dough won’t stick. If you add too much flour, the dough will be difficult to roll.

Take a portion of gnocchi dough and roll it out into a long, thin cylinder and cut into pieces.

Here is a closeup so you can see just how thin I’ve rolled the dough out. The thinner the roll, the less time the gnocchi will take to cook.

You can leave them as is or run them on the reverse side of the tines of a fork to fom ridges that characterize traditional gnocchi. I usually skip this part if I’m cooking for myself. If I’m cooking for a crowd, that’s a different story.

Drop a few at a time into salted boiling water. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until gnocchi rises to the top. Lift out with a slotted spoon. Ideally, your sauce should be ready once the gnocchi are done. Top with sauce and serve immediately.

The sauce ingredients vary according to the season and what looks good at the farmers’ market.

1/2 cup fresh corn niblets (about 1 ear of corn)
1/2 cup heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. onion chives, minced
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 T. unsalted butter

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add corn and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until corn becomes tender. Do not overcook. Add Sungold cherry tomatoes. Toss until tomatoes become slightly wilted. Check seasoning, stir in tarragon and remove from heat. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan. Give a few quick stirs, making sure to coat the gnocchi with the corn and cherry tomatoes. Divide amongst warmed serving bowls; top each serving with some chopped heirloom tomatoes and chives. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 appetizer servings or 1 entrée.
Time: 35 minutes

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