Normally I'm all about innovation and deep digging and hardcore testing here at The Food Lab. But this time I'm starting with a dish so iconic, so incredible, so damn-near-flawless in its original form that the best I can possibly hope to do is tweak it just a bit to suit my very particular personal tastes. I'm talking about the ricotta gnudi at The Spotted Pig, April Bloomfield's West Village gastropub. Thin, thin pasta surrounds a core of creamy, explosive sheep's milk ricotta all served in a brown butter and sage sauce. And the good news is that my favorite dish isn't even that hard to make.
'gnocchi' on Serious Eats
We're not going to lie: Potato gnocchi can be a little tricky and require some practice to get right. But if you know a few basic rules, it's really not that hard to make ones that are light and tender, not leaden and gummy. This recipe walks you through those steps, starting with choosing a gnocchi-friendly potato and cooking it the right way; then we leave it up to you whether to add egg yolk or not (yolks make a dough that's easier to work with, but also firmer); and finally we add just enough flour to make a cohesive dough while being careful not to overwork it to the point of gumminess. The result are lovely little gnocchi in a sage-butter sauce that will prove that good gnocchi aren't out of reach.
I love gnocchi. At least, I love the gnocchi in my mind. Light, pillowy, flavor-packed, they're the perfect vessel for a good red sauce. The big problem? Potato gnocchi take a long time and are far from foolproof. Say hello to their quick, easy, and delicious ricotta-based cousins.
Long before ships brought native crops from the Americas to Europe, Italy was a land without red sauce, corn polenta, or potato gnocchi. But even without the potato, gnocchi still existed, such as in the form of the classic gnocchi alla Romana, this custardy oven-baked version made with semolina, egg, cheese, and butter. You could say these are the OG: the original gnocchi.
The easiest way to enjoy Parisian-style gnocchi: puffed in brown butter with a crisp coating of broiled cheese.
Light and tender Parisian-style gnocchi made with a poached pâte à choux.
A perfect end-of-summer meal with light and airy Parisian-style gnocchi crisped in olive oil and served with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and sweet corn.
I call ricotta gnocchi "fast food" Italian, as with just a little practice, you can make ricotta gnocchi in as little time as it takes you to boil the water to cook them in. This really is a dish, sauce included, that can be prepared and cooked in under 30 minutes which makes it a fabulous choice for busy mid-week meals.
These days, I'm still fascinated by green pasta, so cooking up a batch of James Peterson's Spinach Gnocchi from Vegetables was an easy sell. These gnocchi are potato-free, instead relying on flour and ricotta cheese to turn the leafy green into a hand-rolled treat. Rolling out gnocchi is definitely a process, but it's easy and kind of like playing with Play-Doh.
Tender, fluffy potato gnocchi, without the wheat flour.
Pork chops, simply seared with fresh thyme, are finished with a two-ingredient sauce of dry Normandy apple cider and fresh cream. Served with gnocchi and a salad, it's parfait!
Domenica Marchetti finishes these rich little gnocchi by tossing them in an herbed butter and baking them in the oven under a shower of finely shredded Parmigiano. Similar to another autumn pasta, butternut squash ravioli, these carrot gnocchi tread the line between sweet and savory in the best possible way, sweetly carroty and buttery with a welcome hit of salt from the Parmigiano and a brightness from the chopped herbs.
There's something about rabbit—richer than chicken and more subtle than pork, it has a flavor that's unique. This simple ragu has uncomplicated ingredients that let the rabbit's flavor come through.
Though you need a decent chunk of time to make the gnocchi pasta, it's really not hard to do. The sage brown-butter sauce, on the other hand, comes together so quickly, you can prepare it in the few minutes it takes to cook the gnocchi. The pay-off is worth the effort. The soft gnocchi and the nutty, toasted butter make for deeply satisfying comfort food.
Potatoes and cabbage remind me of the diet Charlie Bucket and his family survived on before Willy Wonka's golden ticket came their way. But prepare these humble ingredients with a little Italian flair, and you'll have an elegant, affordable dish.
Photograph from truth82 on Flickr I've saved Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond's gnocchi with lamb ragu for Friday, because I think it'll make a great weekend project. Properly-made gnocchi are a joy both to roll and to eat, and...
Squash. Photograph by Robyn Lee. I've made potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi before, but I've never branched out beyond that--nor realized I could. But it does make sense. The idea that squash could be turned into gnocchi immediately grabbed...
The markets of Rome are always ablaze with color, but as the weather gets warmer and the variety of produce grows, the vivid hues have intensified. This past Saturday at the Campo de’Fiori was a riot of spring colors, but it was the reds that leapt out and grabbed my attention.
Most of my experience with gnocchi is with the potato kind. I do love it, but it takes time. By the time the potatoes have baked, an hour has already gone by. Then you have to let it cool, and...