ricotta gnocchi with browned butter sage sauce

Trevor and I have been meaning to try out homemade gnocchi for a while now, so we decided to spend some quality time together in the kitchen for Valentine's Day.  We had fun working together and trying something new (while enjoying a few glasses of wine).  I've never tried ricotta gnocchi before, so it really was an experiment.  It turned out so tender and the flavour was really good.  Like perfect little pillows of cheesy goodness...how could that be bad?  And I love the nutty flavour of browned butter with sage - it makes all pasta good, but is even better on these little treats.  This recipe really isn't that hard, but tastes like you slaved away at it.  Try it, your friends (or sweetheart) will be super-impressed!

Ricotta Gnocchi

  • 1 (15 or 16oz.) container of ricotta (whole milk is best)
  • 2 large slices of white bread, crusts removed and processed into crumbs 
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. fresh grated parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 tbsp flour

Line a mesh strainer with a triple-layer of paper towel or coffee filters and set it over a large bowl or measuring cup.  Put the ricotta in the lined strainer and set it in the fridge to drain for one hour.  While the ricotta is draining, heat the oven to 300 F.  After the bread is processed into crumbs spread them on a baking sheet and bake until dry and just starting to turn golden (about 10 minutes).  Allow the crumbs to cool - you should have about 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

After the ricotta is drained, put it in the bowl of the food processor and pulse it on and off to bread the curds down into fine crumbs.  Transfer the ricotta to a large bowl, then add the egg, basil, parsley, salt & pepper.  Stir together with a rubber spatula.  Add the parmesan cheese and flour and stir together until well combined.  Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to make it easier to roll out.

Lightly dust the counter top with flour.  Work with a piece of dough about the size of a lemon and roll it out into a rope about 3/4" thick.  Cut the rope into 3/4" long pieces and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Keep rolling out the gnocchi until all the dough is used up.

Make the browned butter sage sauce and keep it covered while you cook the gnocchi.  Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Add 1 tbsp salt.  Reduce the heat so that the water is only simmering - boiling water will break the delicate gnocchi apart.  Gently transfer about 1/2 of the gnocchi to the pot and cook until all the pieces float to the surface, then two more minutes.  Scoop the cooked gnocchi out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer into the pan with the sauce and cover to keep it warm while you cook the other half.  After all the gnocchi are cooked gently toss them in the sauce with a spatula and serve immediately.

Browned Butter Sage Sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh minced sage leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally until the butter is a light brown and smells nutty.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the shallot and sage then stir until the shallot is fragrant.  Stir in the lemon juice, then cover the pan to keep the sauce warm until the gnocchi is ready. 

Recipes adapted from The Best International Recipe by America's Test Kitchen