Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ricotta Gnocchi

Sometimes I am blessed with the perfect combination of inspiration and necessity.  Saturday I went to visit my coworker - no longer pregnant, but also blessed with a beautiful baby girl. 

Being the good Portuguese girl that I am, I had to bring food.  I wanted to make something that she could just heat up a serving at a time - or warm it up for a quick meal for her and her fiance.  I made a quick and simple lasagna with turkey sausage and spinach.

Shaw's had ricotta on sale, and the biggest one was cheaper than the small one!! JACKPOT - Also being a good Portuguese girl meant that I had to buy the cheapest one.  Of course, that left me with more ricotta than I knew what to do with.

Once the lasagna was delivered I did a quick search for 'ricotta' on Epicurious.com:  hmm...ricotta tart, ricotta gelati, ricotta cheesecake.  I had already mixed it with some spinach for the lasagna, so a sweet application was out of the question.  Then - poof - the light bulb of inspiration!  Gnocchi!  I perused a few recipes for basic technique, then I winged it.

I had to start a day early and drain the ricotta....so I also made the sauce a day early so I could just finish up everything for a quick-ish weeknight meal.  I've seen this particular sauce making the blog rounds.  Once Deb on Smitten Kitchen (she has no idea how much I idolize her) gave it her kudos I worked up the courage.  It just sounded so simple.  Can of tomatoes, 5 tablespoons of butter, and an onion - sliced in half.  Let it simmer for 45 minutes, crush up tomatoes against the pot with a spoon, and voila - a beautiful, simple tomato sauce.

After a post-work gym trip, I started on my gnocchi:

To the ricotta spinach mixture I added salt, cayenne, nutmeg, an egg, and about a half cup of flour...
mix and chill

Next, I rolled the mix into balls, and then tossed them in some flour....

cover and chill again...this time for about 15 minutes

Then I dropped them in some boiling water

Once they floated to the top they were done...but I figured it was too good to be true.  So I tasted one.  It was a perfect, light, little cheese ball. 

In a skillet on another burner I had been warming some of the tomato sauce.  I quickly drained my little cheese clouds, and dropped them in the sauce. 

Not only were these ABSOLUTELY delicious...I had everything on hand to make them -- I didn't buy a single ingredient!  I can't tell you how many times an unfortunate container of ricotta has gone past its 'use by' date in the back of my fridge while I try to figure out what to do with it.  Never again.

What is your favorite dish to make with leftover ingredients?


  1. Alicia, this looks A-MAZING! I need to try these immediately :)

  2. I take a lot of leftovers and bake them into a quiche! even spaghetti with tomato sauce is good in eggs I hear

  3. I have so much trouble making gnocchi... especially ricotta gnocchi. I can't believe how perfectly yours came out!

    I tend to make a lot of spaghetti carbonara with leftover bacon.

    Hmm... do you think I have a thing for bacon? Loved your comment on my lentil soup post!

  4. I was trying to remember last night if your gnocchi issues were with ricotta or potato....I'll help you with them if you teach me how to make gougeres or choux pastry! Those things are my white whale.

    Hey, no shame in the bacon. It's a marvelous food!

  5. oh man. this looks incredible. i have a secret (well not anymore) weakness for gnocchi, especially when in a tomato cream sauce. yum!

  6. Hi,

    I found you indirectly through foodbuzz. I'm about to attempt Anne Burrell's spinach and ricotta gnocchi recipe by the end of the month. Any words of advice to pass along?