With the fall weather approaching, what we all really want is a comforting bowl of warm pasta and cheese – especially in the middle of the week after a long day of classes. To create these ricotta gnocchi for all my friends, I took inspiration from the technique that chefs Daniel Humm and April Bloomfield use. They create delicate gnocchi with a very thin pasta shell on the outside, breaking them to reveal a ricotta filling that nearly explodes in your mouth. Whereas most ricotta gnocchi recipes call for kneaded dough, this one is unique in that the balls of soft, fluffy ricotta are left to sit under semolina flour for at least 24 hours to create their crispy shell.
To make use of fall produce, I paired the gnocchi with a warm acorn squash purée so packed full of flavor that you’ll want to eat it on its own. The roasted tomatoes add a sweet and acidic component, balancing the richness of the pasta. However, you can just use the gnocchi recipe and pair it with any kind of sauce or pesto or even a simple brown butter with shaved parmigiano on top.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 40 gnocchi
2 ¼ cups well-drained ricotta
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
- To drain the ricotta, line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth or paper towels. Spread the ricotta across the cloths, cover and press a weight on top to blot off any extra moisture.
- Combine the drained ricotta in a bowl with the egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, flour and salt. Chill the dough until firm to allow easier shaping.
- Dust the bottom of a large baking dish with semolina flour. Roll the gnocchi dough into balls about 1 ¼ inches wide. Transfer to the baking dish and repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure the balls aren’t touching. After shaping all the gnocchi, bury them completely under additional semolina. Plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and no longer than three days.
Note: It is important to allow the semolina to absorb the moisture from the ricotta so that a shell forms. Any unused gnocchi can be frozen then unthawed before cooking.
Acorn Squash Purée
2 acorn squash
4 sprigs thyme
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off of the acorn squash and scoop the seeds out.
- In each squash, place two sprigs of thyme, one garlic clove, two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Dust a little bit of nutmeg into each one.
- Bake about 45 minutes or until you can push a fork through. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and blend in a food processor until smooth. Adjust with salt.
Roasted Tomatoes and Pea Shoots
¼ cup chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Warm the acorn squash purée and dress the pea shoots with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they float, about 3 minutes. While the gnocchi are cooking, bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large sauté pan. Add the butter to emulsify. Once the gnocchi are done, transfer to the pan and lightly glaze. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and sear.
- Spread the acorn squash puree at the bottom of each plate. Plate the ricotta gnocchi, cherry tomatoes and pea shoots. Finish off with some freshly ground black pepper and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.