This fresh-tasting gnocchi dish is perfect for spring and summer when fresh herbs are readily available. Light, tender pillows of ricotta cheese are studded with finely chopped fresh herbs and the dish is dressed with a quick vibrant-tasting tomato sauce. I prefer to make ricotta gnocchi within a couple of hours of cooking them, as I find they can soften too much if left too long. If not cooking the gnocchi immediately, refrigerate until needed. Although I do prefer a simple tomato sauce with these gnocchi, you could top them with a creamy pesto.
Note: Look for a high quality ricotta cheese with nothing but milk, salt, and a starter or acid in the ingredients (avoid those with gums or stabilizers). Our favorite brand is Calabro.
About the Author: Deborah Mele is the owner of Italian Food Forever, an Italian recipe blog, as well as Recipe Rebuild, a healthy recipe blog she shares with her daughter Christy, an RD. Deborah lives 6 months a year in Umbria, Italy where she oversees her guest house Il Casale di Mele.
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- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, preferably Italian
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 pound full fat Ricotta cheese (see note above)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, Divided
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- Grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly torn basil, and extra-virgin olive oil for serving
In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 tablespoons chopped basil, stir, and cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as desired.
In a bowl, place the Ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup of grated cheese, egg, parsley, mint, remaining tablespoon basil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a spoon until you have formed a shaggy dough. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times with your hands, adding an additional tablespoon or two of flour if the dough is too sticky.
Divide the dough into fist size pieces, and roll into long logs as thick as your thumb, lightly dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into 1 inch slices and gently place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough in this manner. If not using immediately, place in the refrigerator.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and drop the gnocchi into the water. Remove as soon as most have floated to the top, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, and return to the pot. Place a large scoop of sauce on the gnocchi and gently shake the pot to mix. Serve in individual bowls with an additional spoonful of sauce on top, sprinkled with cheese, basil, and olive oil.