Ricotta Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto Recipe

Not only one of the fastest fresh pasta recipes around, but also the perfect way to showcase first-of-the-season asparagus.

A plate of homemade ricotta asparagus with fresh asparagus, prosciutto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Why This Recipe Works

  • Quick gnocchi dough comes together in less time than it takes to boil a pot of water.
  • Using heavy cream makes a quick and easy pasta sauce with minimal ingredients and great flavor and texture.

Did you know that you can make fresh ricotta gnocchi in less time than it takes to boil a pot of water? It's absolutely the fastest fresh pasta recipe I know; with a little practice, I've gotten it down to under 10 minutes (8 minutes 53 seconds, to be precise). But the great part about this recipe is that it serves as a suitable base for a huge variety of sauces and flavors. It's one of those dishes you can pull out year-round, just changing up the toppings to suit the seasons. For instance, a friend of mine once brought over some delicious first-of-the-season fresh asparagus, which we turned into an impromptu meal on the spot.

Since then, I've tweaked the recipe a bit, adding some lemon zest to the cream sauce and fine-tuning the aromatics, but the basic premise is still a very simple one: Starting 100% from scratch, you should be able to make the gnocchi and the sauce in just about half an hour.

I start by sautéing some thinly-sliced prosciutto or pancetta in olive oil until crisp and rendered, then add some green garlic ('tis the season, though thin-sliced scallions or even shallots both taste great) and some minced garlic to the mix. As soon as they become aromatic, I add my asparagus, which I've sliced on a bias. You could peel the asparagus if you like, but it seems like overkill for such a simple dish.

Once the asparagus has just started to soften, I add a glug of heavy cream.

Pouring cream into a skillet with sauted asparagus and prosciutto for a gnocchi dish.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

As Daniel has demonstrated, cream—when reduced in a skillet—can turn into a rich, silky sauce all on its own with just a few aromatics, no need for any thickener or stock at all. At first it'll seem like the cream will just slick off of the asparagus and prosciutto, but as it cooks down it should start to coat things nicely. Once it reaches a saucy consistency, I grate in some Parmesan cheese and season it with salt and pepper to taste.

The cooked gnocchi go into the pan along with a small splash of their cooking water, a squeeze of lemon, some lemon zest, and a big bunch of chopped chives. It looks like I might have gone a bit overboard with my cream to pasta ratio. You will make no such error. Unless you'd like to. The Italians tend to be very particular about their sauce-to-pasta ratio.

A bowl of homemade ricotta gnocchi with a creamy asparagus and prosciutto sauce.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

I tend to be very particular about not taking very particular people too seriously (but yes, I tinkered with the ratios a bit to arrive at the dish above which has just enough cream sauce to coat the gnocchi and asparagus while also leaving a tiny bit behind in the bowl for scooping up with bread at the end of the meal).

A fork in a bowl full of easy-to-make ricotta gnocchi with asparagus and prosciutto.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

How's that for fast food?

May 2015

Recipe Details

Ricotta Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto Recipe

Active 20 mins
Total 20 mins
Serves 3 to 4 servings

Not only one of the fastest fresh pasta recipes around, but also the perfect way to showcase first-of-the-season asparagus.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto, cut into thin ribbons

  • 1/4 cup thinly-sliced green garlic or scallions, white and pale green parts only (about 4)

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound asparagus, cut on a bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon, divided

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

  • 1 recipe ricotta gnocchi, prepared through the end of Step 4 (do not cook and do not make sauce)

Directions

  1. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet or slope-sided saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring, until mostly crisp, about 2 minutes. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add asparagus and cook, tossing and stirring frequently, until asparagus is just starting to turn tender, about 2 minutes.

    Sautéing prosciutto and asparagus in a pan for a homemade gnocchi dish.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

  2. Add heavy cream and half of Parmesan. Cook, stirring, until cream thickens and coats the asparagus pieces, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Stirring prosciutto, asparagus, and cream together in a pan to serve with gnocchi.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

  3. Add gnocchi to now-boiling pot of water, stir gently, and cook until gnocchi float for 30 seconds, about 3 minutes total. Drain gnocchi, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water. Add gnocchi, lemon juice, half of lemon zest, chives, and 2 tablespoons of cooking water to saucepan with sauce and bring to a hard boil, stirring gently. Add more pasta water to thin sauce to desired consistency. Serve immediately, topped with lemon zest and additional Parmesan cheese.

    A skillet of homemade ricotta gnocchi with a creamy prosciutto and asparagus sauce.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
708 Calories
36g Fat
68g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 708
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Cholesterol 118mg 39%
Sodium 1324mg 58%
Total Carbohydrate 68g 25%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 15mg 76%
Calcium 296mg 23%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 693mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)