Ever since I first discovered the deliciousness that is gnocchi, I was under the impression that they were all created from potato. But recently I discovered they can also be created with ricotta – which sounds like it would be richer and more flavorful. Especially more so if using goat-milk ricotta! So I busted out my gnocchi board for the first time and got to work.
I haven’t made gnocchi in years, but remember the first time I ever made them – it was in my high school Italian class and I thought they were the most precious things ever. We didn’t do anything fancy to make them ridged, just cut them up into little pieces and boiled them, but their freshness was nothing like I had ever tasted before.
This time around I added the ridges, but unfortunately they were not very pronounced as I had hoped for visually. They still did their job holding onto the sauce, but I was expecting deeper, bigger ridges like you see on those you buy in the store. I am not sure why I expected that since I knew how small the ridges were on my gnocchi board. Sometimes my brain doesn’t make sense.
The original recipe said it served six. I do not see how that could’ve been possible without being served alongside some other dish. I barely got three servings out of this, and honestly it took a lot of will power not to make it a two-serving recipe. I could’ve eaten the entire pan in one sitting, it was that freaking amazing. Guess who will never be found buying pre-made shrink-wrapped gnocchi from the grocery store again?
And homemade gnocchi is pretty quick to make, especially compared to other homemade pastas which require the pasta rolling devices. You just roll these up into long logs, slice them up, roll on a gnocchi board (or the back of a fork or cheese grater), let sit in the fridge for a few minutes, then boil in water until they float. Add preferred sauce.
In this scenario I went for a butter sauce complimented by California walnuts and fresh thyme. Don’t forget a nice sprinkle of Parmesan before serving!
GOAT CHEESE RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH WALNUT THYME BUTTER SAUCE
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup 100% whole wheat flour
12 oz. goat-milk ricotta (1 cup soft fresh goat cheese mixed with 3/4 cup cow’s milk ricotta)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped California walnuts
1 Tbsp chopped thyme, plus more for garnish
Salt & pepper
- Mix together the flour and ricotta (or ricotta and goat cheese), and knead until a nice soft dough forms. Cut the dough into 4 even pieces. Roll each piece out into a 1/2-inch-thick rope and cut each rope, with a pastry cutter or knife, into 3/4-inch pieces. With your thumb, roll each piece of cut dough against the back of a handheld cheese grater, the back of a fork, or on a gnocchi board. Place the gnocchi on trays dusted lightly with flour and place in the refrigerator.
- Bring 6 quarts salted water to a boil. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan. Once it begins to foam, add the walnuts and thyme. Sauté a few minutes, until the butter begins to brown and the walnuts are lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the reserved pasta water and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toss the gnocchi in the butter sauce, sprinkle with some fresh thyme, Parmesan, and serve.
Source: Adapted slightly from Fine Cooking.