Before you turn away and think this is way too complicated for a seemingly simple dish, hear me out. The ricotta gnocchi are EASY, the trimmings are EASY, and most of it can be done ahead, meaning you just need to bring it all together in a pan before serving. This makes an impressive dinner party entree, or you can toss in some arugula and make it a salad. What’s more, these freeze beautifully so you can bang out two batches in no time and enjoy them again at a later date!
The only time consuming part is letting the dough rest for 15 minutes, and in those 15 minutes you can busy yourself with roasting the squash, browning the butter, etc. Let’s multitask, people! My dough came out well after the first rest so I didn’t need to add flour and rest it again. If you want to make fancy shapes with a fork then this is up to you. I just like to cut them and serve them as the perfect little pillows that they are.
To make this recipe a success, I strongly urge you to follow the recipe. That means drain the cheese as instructed (even if you think your ricotta looks dry enough), and let the dough rest. If you don’t, then I can’t guarantee that your gnocchi won’t fall apart when you boil them, which would be a sad, sad mess indeed.
Ingredients for 4 servings
For the gnocchi:
16 ounces (500g) whole-milk ricotta cheese - it needs to drain for a few hours so plan ahead!
3/4 cup (95g) flour
1/2 cup (90g) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 handfuls of baby arugula (rocket)
6 tablespoons butter
12 sage leaves
Roasted Honey Nut Squash - or any other squash. This can be done ahead if you want to, as you’ll reheat it all before serving. Cut into small cubes, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400F (200C) for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through until tender.
Start by lining a sieve with two coffee filters or two sheets of paper towel. Place the sieve over a bowl big enough to comfortably hold the sieve, add the ricotta to the sieve and refrigerate for at least one hour, but overnight if possible.
Combine the ricotta, flour, parmesan, egg and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Check the dough consistency, it should be a little tacky, but it shouldn’t stick to your fingers (like gum). If it does stick, add flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it has the right consistency. Then refrigerate for another 15 minutes. (I found the consistency was good without adding more flour, so I skipped the second 15 minute rest).
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Sprinkle a baking tray with flour. Divide the dough into fourths and work each quarter into a log, about 3/4” (1.9cm) in diameter. Using a knife, cut each log into small pillows and toss them in the flour on the baking tray, this will ensure they don’t stick together.
Drop the pillows into the water in batches, and boil for 3-4 minutes, once they all float to the top, remove them with a slotted spoon to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
You can serve them at this stage with a sauce of your choice, but I personally love my gnocchi when they’re revived by pan-frying them in butter. If you make them up to this point, you can freeze them on the baking tray, and transfer them to a zip lock bag once they are frozen. They’ll keep for a month and can be prepared from frozen.
To make the brown butter and sage crisps, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the sage leaves. Keep a close eye on it, after 5 minutes or so the milk solids will start to turn brown, giving the butter that delicious nutty flavor. Remove the butter from the heat so the milk solids don’t burn.
When you’re ready to serve and bring all the ingredients together, warm the brown butter in a frying pan. Add the gnocchi, letting them brown a little, and the squash (if it’s not already warm). Plate the gnocchi and squash, sprinkle over some arugula (if using) and scatter some frizzled sage leaves over the dish. Some slivers of Parmesan are dreamy in here as well, and don’t forget that final drizzle of brown butter. 😋