Fresh Ricotta Gnudi with Hazelnuts and Sage

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up–an Italian grandmother who makes unbelievable pastas and that’s all anyone will ever want to eat.

I had a couple moments of absolute fulfillment on Sunday when I made homemade ricotta cheese and fresh gnudi.  Check out the photo — YES, I MADE THOSE! Now, they’re not as pretty as a real Italian nona would make, but they WILL be once Amazon sends me my groovy gnocchi board — and that will be soon.

All I have to say is why does ANYONE BUY ricotta cheese?  That’s like eating Cheese Whiz from a can.  I made ricotta in FIVE MINUTES — and let it happily drain and thicken throughout the day until it was time to make the gnudi.

Essere un bravo ragazzo o ragazza. That’s nona talk for “Be a good boy or girl.”




The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa — I cut it in half for  just me.

4 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar (and I also added a little lemon juice)

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).  Do not worry if the curds are tiny — just continue with the recipe.  It will form  a delicious ricotta.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

And now . . . 


Gnudi:  Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Hazelnuts and Sage

1 1/8 lb fresh ricotta strained overnight to remove moisture

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup all purpose flour

Combine the egg, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the flour all at once and, with a fork or a pastry cutter, gently but swiftly work the mixture into a soft dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough, as it could become tough when cooked.

Lightly dust a medium bowl with flour. Add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least
30 minutes.

Lightly flour a clean work surface and a large plate. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 parts, then roll each piece between your palms into a log 3/4 inch in diameter. Using a small knife or a pastry scraper, cut each log into ten to twelve 1-inch, then transfer these gnocchi to the plate and refrigerate them for 30 minutes, until chilled.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook them until they float, about
1 to 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the gnocchi.

I kind of made up the rest of the dish.

I browned some pine  nuts (because I couldn’t find decent hazelnuts) in a large sauté pan, then poured the pine nuts into a bowl to cool. Then in the same pan I added olive oil and quick fried several sage leaves, then drained those on paper towels.   Once again in the same pan I sautéed some pancetta cut into 1/4″ dice in some olive oil.  Then added the gnocchi and carefully sautéed them until they were browned.  I added about 1/2 cup white wine and cooked that down,  and to finish added a squirt of lemon juice, the pine nuts and pancetta and a good sprinkling of freshly grated percorino romano cheese and took the pan off the heat.  For serving, I snipped some chives and sprinkled a little more of the pecorino romano.







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