You might not know it, but gnocchi is actually a kind of pasta. There are a variety of ways you can make these fluffy little pillows, and this recipe uses ricotta and parmesan as a base because let’s face it, cheese is always a good thing, but they can also be made simply with 2 ingredients: potatoes and flour. Like with fresh pasta, using your hands to roll them out is almost therapeutic, and a great way to switch off from the world for a little while.
Served up with just a three ingredient tomato sauce, this is one of those recipes that proves that sometimes simple is all you need, and want.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Photography & styling: Olivia Cavalli-Williamson
For the sauce:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, skin removed and crushed but kept whole
1 tin tomatoes
Handful of basil
For the gnocchi:
360g whole milk ricotta
40g Parmesan, grated finely plus more to serve
100g all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 egg and 1 yolk
Start by making the sauce. Pour a puddle of extra virgin olive oil into a medium sized pan so that it coats the bottom generously. Heat it on a moderate heat then add the garlic and let it sizzle gently for a minute or two making sure it doesn’t brown.
Add the tomatoes, rinsing out the tin with a splash of water and adding this to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt. Leave to cook on a low simmer for around 30 minutes until reduced, thickened and sludgy. Tear the basil into the sauce and taste for seasoning.
Line a large tray with greaseproof paper and dust with flour. Set aside for later.
Line a large plate with a few pieces of paper towel. Dump the ricotta on to the plate then take a few more pieces of paper towel and place on top. Push down with the palms of your hands – you’re trying to blot any excess water out of the ricotta. You can repeat this a second time if you think it’s necessary.
Weigh out 250g of the ricotta (this will likely be most of it) and put this in a mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan, sift in the flour and add the egg plus the yolk. Whisk everything together until just combined. Season to taste and mix again.
Dust the surface you’re working on and your hands with more flour. Turn the ricotta mix out from the bowl and onto your work surface. It should be very soft but not super sticky – add a light dusting of flour to the dough if you think it needs it but bear in mind the more flour you add the denser the gnocchi will be.
Divide the dough into quarters. Take one piece and leave the other 3 to the side. Roll it out into a sausage about 2cm thick, then cut pieces using a knife to roughly 2cmx2cm – no need to measure, no two pieces need to be exactly the same. Line the gnocchi up on your prepared tray, making sure they don’t touch. Repeat this with the other three pieces of dough until you’ve formed all of your gnocchi.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. When it’s bubbling vigorously, turn the heat down slightly to a gentler simmer. Lightly drop the gnocchi into the water, stir once with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes until they start to bob to the top. At this point, count to 10 then use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi from the water to the pan with the sauce, which should be warming on the side. Toss the gnocchi in the sauce until well coated.
To serve, divide the gnocchi up between your bowls, scatter with Parmesan and finish with another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Eat immediately.