Don’t be scared off by the sound of this recipe. You can make the gnocchi in the time it takes for the tomato confit to cook. Many of the steps in the recipe can even be made ahead.
I’ve made ricotta gnocchi many times in the past. It’s my default type of gnocchi these days and lends itself to so many preparations that traditional potato gnocchi usually doesn’t. It appears on my menu with clockwork regularity, about once every four to six weeks especially around this time of year. I love the gentle sweetness of the ricotta which contrasts beautifully with all sorts of vegetables. Here, I’ve paired it with two different tomato preps — quick tomato confit and a sauté of diced heirloom tomatoes and baby pattypan squash.
1 cup cow’s milk ricotta cheese, drained of its whey
a small pinch of nutmeg
about 1/2 cup flour, with extra for rolling
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
4 baby pattypan squash, diced
3 plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsalted French butter such as Pamplie or Beurre d’Isigny (regular unsalted butter is fine)
This is about 1 cup fresh cow’s milk ricotta cheese that’s been drained of its whey. The easiest way to do this is to line a colander with about 3 to 4 layers of cheesecloth, then place the ricotta into the colander. Set a bowl underneath the colander, then place in the refrigerator. Let the ricotta drain for 8 hours or preferably overnight. The cheesecloth will absorb the moisture while gravity does the remaining work. You want all of the whey to be removed, because any extra moisture present in the cheese will cause the gnocchi to fall apart.
Stir in a pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper and the nutmeg, as well as 1/2 cup flour. Break up any lumps with a fork. Make a well in the center, then add 1 egg.
Starting from the inside of the well, beat in the flour with a small fork until the dough begins to cohere and you’ve formed a small ball.
You can make the dough a few hours ahead if you wish. Divide the dough into quarters. 2 quarters will provide sufficient ricotta gnocchi to serve one person.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Too little flour and the dough will stick. Too much flour and the dough won’t cohere. Roll the dough out until it reaches about 1/2″ in diameter. I’ve included a pen cap for size comparison.
Cut the dough into approx. 1/4″ pieces, then gradually drop them into a pot of boiling water. Let the gnocchi cook for 1-2 minutes. When they rise to the top, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
For the tomato and squash sauté:
Gently warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add squash to the pan, along with salt and pepper. Cook until squash begins to turn golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes to the pan; cook for about 1 more minute, then remove from heat and stir in some chopped parsley. Taste for salt and pepper once more.
You want the tomatoes to be warmed through but not enough that it begins to break down. If it reaches this point, you’ve cooked them for too long.
For the tomato confit:
Arrange tomato slices in a glass Pyrex baking dish or roasting pan. Drizzle each slice with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 F for 90 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
To assemble and serve:
Melt unsalted French butter in a skillet, then add the gnocchi. Toss the gnocchi in the pan until each dumpling is coated with melted butter. Spoon gnocchi into a shallow serving plate or pasta bowl. Spoon tomato and squash mixture around gnocchi. Top with tomato confit, sprinkle with chopped parsley, then serve at once.
Time: 30 minutes, not including prep. Dough for the gnocchi and the tomato confit can be made ahead.