You know those words that stop making any sense when you look at them for too long? Gnocchi is one of those words. Nyocky. Nuuyooockiiii. It can’t be right. But anyway. Homemade ricotta gnocchi! Light, fluffy little cheesy dumplings that can be whipped up in less than 45 minutes. Here’s how you make them!
What is gnocchi?
Just in case you’re not familiar with gnocchi, I thought I’d better give you a quick overview. Gnocchi are (is?) little dumplings that are generally served in a similar way to pasta – usually as a meal in their own right with some kind of sauce, but also sometimes as a side dish. Usually, the base of gnocchi is mashed potato (sounds weird; makes a great dumpling), but these ricotta dumplings have no mashed potato at all – they use (you guessed it) ricotta cheese instead. It doesn’t sound like ricotta and potato should ever serve the same purpose, but somehow it works!
I’ve made homemade gnocchi a few times in the past, but only ever the potato version, which can be a bit of a faff. Before you can even start on the gnocchi itself, you have to peel and boil the potatoes, and then mash everything to within an inch of its life (nobody likes lumpy gnocchi). I did discover that using frozen mashed potato makes great homemade gnocchi and cuts out a lot of the prep time – but ricotta gnocchi is even quicker still!
Ricotta gnocchi is also lighter and fluffier than potato gnocchi, as you might expect. I think I like it even more, if that were possible.
How to make homemade ricotta gnocchi
Step 1: Mix up the gnocchi dough
Here’s where ricotta gnocchi is so much quicker than potato gnocchi. Mix together ricotta, parmesan, eggs, and flour. That’s it – no peeling, no boiling, no mashing, just straight to mixing. In fact, you don’t even need to do much mixing – just enough to bring it all together into a fluffy dough.
Step 2: Shape the gnocchi
Split the dough into a few equal chunks – I find 8 pieces is pretty easy, as you can quarter the ball of dough, and then cut each piece in half one more time. Using a little more flour to stop it sticking to your worktop, roll each piece into a snake. Try to make them a similar thickness, but it doesn’t matter if some of your snakes end up longer than others.
Then just cut them into chunks! The size doesn’t matter – it just depends on how big you want your dumplings to be. It doesn’t even matter if they’re not quite even – I definitely ended up with a few piddling little ones from the ends of the logs!
Step 3: Boil the gnocchi
Gnocchi (both potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi) cooks really, really quickly – maybe a minute or two in boiling water. You’ll know it’s cooked when the dumplings begin to float – just fish them out of the pan with a big slotted spoon.
At this point, your gnocchi are edible. In fact, most of the times I’ve ordered gnocchi at a restaurant, they’ve just been boiled. But personally, I find that boiled gnocchi can be pretty dense and claggy – much like you would expect boiled dough to taste, really. The cheesy flavour is nice, but the texture leaves a lot to be desired. Which brings me to…
Step 4: Sauté the gnocchi
The difference in texture between gnocchi that has just been boiled, and gnocchi that has been boiled and then sautéed, is pretty incredible. It’s immediately transformed into a light and fluffy dumpling, and the crispy bits round the edge are an amazing bonus. I never, ever skip this step.
Step 5: Add your choice of sauce / extra bits
Just like pasta, you can serve your ricotta gnocchi with any kind of sauce or veggies that you like. Since the dumplings themselves are quite filling, I usually avoid anything too heavy or rich – a thin coating of a thin sauce tends to be better. This time I went for garlic mushrooms and a dollop of basil pesto – simple, but so effective.
And that’s all there is to it – about 45 minutes start to finish, including adding your sauce. As much as I love potato gnocchi, I think ricotta gnocchi is the way to go when you’re making it at home – so much less faff!
Have you ever made homemade ricotta gnocchi? If you have any other top tips to add, let me know in the comments below!
How to make homemade ricotta gnocchi - these are so light and fluffy, and much quicker and easier to make than potato gnocchi!
- 250 g (~ 1 cup) ricotta cheese
- 80 g (~ 3/4 cup) finely grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
- 2 eggs
- 120 g (~ 3/4 cup) plain flour (plus more for dusting)
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil for frying
Add the ricotta cheese, grated parmesan and eggs to a mixing bowl, and mix well. Add the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix again until just combined into a light dough. If the dough seems too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured worktop. Using a little more flour, bring the dough into a ball, and flatten it into a disc. To divide the mixture into 8 even pieces, cut the disc into quarters, then cut each quarter in half again (no need to be too accurate) - see the blog post for a photo.
Roll each piece of dough into a thin snake (using more flour if needed to stop it sticking), then cut into chunks. The exact size doesn't matter - mine were around 2cm long.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and drop in the dumplings. Cook until the dumplings float to the surface of the water (1-2 minutes), then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
Heat some butter and oil in a large frying pan (you need plenty of fat to stop the gnocchi from sticking), and add the dumplings. Don't overcrowd the pan - it's better to cook them in batches if you need to. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown and crispy underneath, then carefully turn the dumplings over to cook the other side (ricotta gnocchi are a bit more delicate than potato gnocchi, so be gentle!).
When the ricotta gnocchi are crispy, add your choice of sauce, and serve immediately. I served mine with garlic sautéed mushrooms and basil pesto.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of the batch (dumplings only).