January 18th, 2012

Ricotta Gnocchi, Dressed in Red


Post-holiday drab winter funk settled in my kitchen…with an unsettling inertia. I’ve had as much resistance to picking up a knife and a whisk, as my market shopping bags. It’s been an odd feeling, uncharacteristic of my general passionate-about-food ways, but December left me shopped and cooked out. I’ve tried ignoring it, hoping that the malaise would lift. Now I’ve decided just to chop through it, and play my “use what you’ve got” game.

In my refrigerator, I found a container of ricotta, still in date. Part of a can of whole plum tomatoes in juice. Eggs. A stray scallion. A small wedge of parmegiano-reggiano.
A sealed bag of all purpose flour.

Could dinner lurk in some combination of these?


Indeed it could. Ricotta Gnocchi.

And, those creamy pillow-like dumplings couldn’t be easier to make.

Unlike other versions that use potatoes (also delicious, but have an extra step–cooking the spuds) the dough can be whipped up in a manner of minutes. In their purest form, ricotta gnocchi are simply ricotta-egg-flour. That’s a plain canvas, rife with possibilities. How you want to season them–herbs, bitter greens, nutmeg, other pungent cheese—
or sauce them—smoky beurre blanc with bits of pancetta, chunky pesto, rosy red pepper puree–is up to you.

Or what you’ve got on hand.


You’ve got plenty of time to make that decision! Mixing the soft dough takes moments. Then, you hand-roll pieces of the dough into long logs, dusting with more flour, and cutting into 1/2″ lengths. Or smaller, if you like.


The shapes are imprecise, rustic; the rolling and handling of them feels like child’s play, a delightful aspect to combat any kitchen inertia.

Line them up on a pan lined with parchment and place the pillows into the freezer to get firm. (If you double this recipe, you can keep the unused gnocchi sealed and frozen for up to 6 weeks—ready to use at a given moment.)


While the gnocchi are tucked into the freezer (or fridge) you can turn your attention to the sauce.


Based on my modest assembly of on-hand ingredients, I chose to cloak mine in a brilliant winter red sauce–little more than plum tomatoes cooked with onion and garlic in olive oil, and pureed. I do like to plunge in a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and thyme, snipped from yard, where they vigorously hang on through the cold weather months. They impart just enough piney aromatics to give the sauce a little herbaceous lift, plucked out before the immersion blender descends into the pot.

While the sauce simmers, bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Drop the gnocchi in. Very quickly, they’ll rise to the surface–indicating that they are almost done. Let them cook another minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and place the tender bites into a pool of red.

The color–a knockout that reminds you of summer—is vibrant and full-flavored dress for the gnocchi, enough to jar the drab winter funk out the door.


1 cup whole milk Ricotta
1 Egg
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour (divided)
1/2 c. grated Parmegiano-Reggiano (Pecorino Romano would be terrific, too)
1 Green Onion, sliced thin (optional)
1/2 t. Kosher Salt
fresh ground Black Pepper

Place ricotta, egg, cheese, scallion, and Half of the flour into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until a soft dough forms. Dust remaining flour on your work counter, and divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into 1/2″ thick log. Cut into pillow shaped pieces, placing each gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place the gnocchi in the freezer for about 15 minutes–long enough to set up and be firm.

Bring a pasta pot full of water to a boil. Season with salt. Drop in gnocchi. Cook over medium heat until they float to the surface. Cook for a about one minute more. Remove with a slotted spoon. Gently coat with sauce.

Serves 2 generous, or 4 first course plates


Posted in Egg/Cheese Dishes, Pastas, Recipes, Sauces, Vegetarian Dishes

36 Responses to “Ricotta Gnocchi, Dressed in Red”
  1. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    I know exactly how you feel Nancy. I too am cooked out after the holidays. I’m taking it easy in the kitchen these days.
    You created a beautiful dish from what you had in your fridge. Amazing!
    I have never tried making gnocchi, potato or otherwise. Your ricotta gnocchi look very easy to make. I think I’ll give them a try.

  2. The Elegant Eggplant Says:

    I love your title here… dressed in red! How cute. I have never made gnocci before but have always wanted to. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  3. Caroline Says:

    What an inventive way to use up leftovers…so resourceful of you! Never tried ricotta gnocchi, but considering how much I love the cheese, I know I would be a huge fan of this dish. Looks fantastic, Nancy. I’m right there with ya on the lull in cooking after the holidays. I need to get out of this rut!

  4. Kath Says:

    Nancy, you are brilliant even when in a funk. I like the idea of these ricotta gnocci very much.

  5. heather Says:

    I teach a cooking class every wednesday for 3 boys (11 years old) and we are definitely going to make this dish! Thank you Nancy.

  6. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Magda and Caroline–It’s nice to know I have comrades in post holiday cooking funk! It will pass—very soon I hope!

    Elegant E: you are welcome. I love your blog.

    Kath: Thank you :)

    heather–this would be a perfect recipe for your young cooks to learn. let me know how the class goes-

  7. Maggie Says:

    Nance, this would get anyone out of the doldrums! Yummy!!

  8. Cathy Says:

    Thanks for this post, Nancy. A dinner of gnocchi is a favorite at our house, as you know, and by adding the ricotta you have given us something to try. And a simple sauce lets the gnocchi star! My suggestion for escaping the doldrums is to take on a challenge: make something difficult that stretches your abilities, maybe something you have long wanted to try that has seemed a bit daunting. I have one calling to me now…coulibiac. A challenge, for sure, but I think I can pull it off!

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Cathy–Thank you. Coulibiac is a great challenge, and I know that you are up to pulling off with aplomb. It’s a classic dish that I haven’t thought about for years and years–I’ll be anxious to learn about your experience making it.

  10. Nancy Says:

    well, this looks like an ideal way to work through that post-holiday cooking inertia! absolutely gorgeous.

  11. Tracy Says:

    Your red looks amazing. I can almost taste these fluffy gems. Happy New Year, Nancy!

  12. Beth Says:

    What gorgeous gnocchi! I’m sorry that you’re feeling cooked out, but it sounds like a good time to take a small break from the kitchen. Maybe by next month you’ll be ready to cook up a storm!

  13. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    You play the “use what you’ve got” game like no one else. I must make these.

  14. Teresa Says:

    How I love your postings. Have had the great good fortune to do “cooking school” in Tuscany a couple of times where ricotta gnocchi are legend and go by the name “gnudi”. Makes the “dressed in red” even more appropo. Happy new year!

  15. Tammy Says:

    You are rather remarkable. I am in a funk tonight and opened the fridge and said what leftovers do you want? I did steam a head of broccoli to go with it. Remarkably, everyone did great.

  16. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    This looks like the perfect dish to break the January malaise. Beautiful and delicious.

  17. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Doesn’t everything look better with just a touch of red? Gnocchi is one of my favorite of all the pastas. The beautiful soft gnocchi nestled in the red looks perfecto my friend.

  18. Barbara Says:

    I think gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve made gnudi at home, but for some reason, not gnocchi. This looks wonderful, Nancy, and will surely help you over your January slump!

  19. Mary Says:

    This is beautiful and sounds delicious. I love the use what you’ve got philosophy too. I’ve been playing that game for a couple weeks myself. I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning though and I am ready to play in the kitchen once again this week!

  20. John Says:


    I am going to have to try this. It’s quite a bit different from the gnocci we made last spring. Smoother, creamer??? It must be quite different from potatoe/flour goncchi.


  21. Chris and Amy Says:

    We have had ricotta gnocchi on our to-do list forever! Thanks for the reminder, as well as the inspiration!

  22. Michele C. Says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post. I made the ricotta gnocchi and your red sauce for dinner tonight and my husband and I loved it! It was as easy as you said. I made my own ricotta cheese from scratch, and used Spanish manchego cheese instead of parmigiana (it is what I had at hand). The gnocchi were light, though filling. The sauce is so good, I just want to eat it straight from the saucepan!

  23. goodfoodmatters Says:

    John—let me know how it comes out for you! it is so so simple.

    Chris and Amy–you are welcome!

    Michele C.–Thank you for sharing your gnocchi success with me. I am so glad that you and your husband enjoyed the dish. Brava for making your own ricotta. And the manchego—great idea. I think your version is better than mine!

  24. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    you are such an inspiration. Ricotta gnocchi? really? Could gnocchi get any better- yep- only if it is dressed in your unbelievable red sauce! I love this recipe!

  25. FOODESSA Says:

    Red is actually my very favourite colour. That said, unfortunately, gnocchi in general never seemed to attract my tummy. I do admit, that my last try at them was way long ago. Who knows, maybe your post might just nudge me to try them again. After all, I used to turn away from avocados and now I love them…go figure. ;o)

    Have a great week Nancy and all the best,

  26. Nicole Says:

    I see we subscribe to the same form of kitchen therapy. At least yours is good for dinner, mine is undoubtedly dessert these days. Surprising because I was sure I was done with sweets after December. That didn’t last long.
    These gnocchi in the beautiful red sauce look stunning.

  27. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    You’ve inspired me to play this game of ‘use what you got’ because you came up with something better than I could of thought of. This is a very refreshing dish to wake ones senses from the post holiday frenzy.

  28. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, I like gnocchi, now with ricotta must taste much better…looks delicious dressed in red ;-)
    Hope you are having a great week!

  29. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    What a beautiful and great sounding meal. I love ricotta gnocchi…they are like clouds in your mouth.

  30. Simply Life Says:

    I love gnocchi and these look like they came out perfectly!

  31. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com Says:

    I love gnocchi and these turned out so scrumptious looking — thanks for the recipe, Nancy!

    BTW, thank you for dropping by my blog :)

  32. Emily Malloy Says:

    Oh my! These look perfect!

  33. Faith Says:

    Hi Nancy! I just got back from vacation and am catching up on my blog reading! I know what you mean about the winter blues…this recipe looks like the perfect way to turn things around though! I’ve never made gnocchi at home but it’s been on my list of things to try for forever — bookmarking!

  34. Gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi…. « Conscious Food Choices Says:

    [...] be afraid to be liberal with the flour. Or, you can just forget the fancy fork thing and do some rustic “loggy” ones or whatever you like. Try some fishes! Just make batches in relatively all the same size so that [...]

  35. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Im quietly singing “Gnocchi iiin reeeed” at my desk lol

  36. Helen Says:

    We made this for Valentine’s Day dinner at home and it was an ideal meal, not too heavy!, with a side of greens. Using ricotta instead of potatoes meant that we could make these on a weeknight, with the bright red sauce to boot. Thanks for the recipe!

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