Gnocchi is my all-time-favorite Italian dish. It is my test for any Italian restaurant I go to for the first time; if they have gnocchi on the menu you better believe that is what I will be ordering. And if it passes the test, then I will come back a second time to explore the rest of the menu. What is gnocchi you ask? They are traditionally small potato dumplings that are soft little pillows for your sauce. Good gnocchi will be light as air and melt in your mouth. Poor gnocchi will be dense and tough. There is a thin line between these two ends of the spectrum and it can easily sway from one end to the next with too much flour. I have made traditional gnocchi once in my life with helpful guidance from an Italian friend and let me tell you it took alllllll afternoon! There are so many steps and by the time we actually got to enjoy the fruits of our efforts, we were exhausted. From that day on, I had left the gnocchi making to the experts. That is, until I stumbled upon an article on Serious Eats by the great J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that changed my life.
The title of the article drew me in right away, “Make Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi in Less Time Than it Takes to Cook Dried Pasta.” Hold the phones! I can make gnocchi with cheese and it won’t take me all day? Sold! Kenji lays out the process step by step and it could not have been easier. Everything is by weight as well so it all went into one bowl and clean-up was a breeze. I recommend reading the article once through before going directly to the recipe to ensure success. I was skeptical of pressing the ricotta cheese between paper towels to absorb the moisture, wouldn’t it get stuck? I just bought quality ricotta cheese and I did not want to be stuck with a paper towel cheese mess. I took the leap of faith though and it totally worked! I don’t know why I doubted Kenji, he is the expert after all. The recipe really did come together in about 30 minutes and honestly I thought they tasted better than its sibling the potato gnocchi. I served my gnocchi with meatballs to add some protein and topped with basil and Parmesan. This recipe does make more than one serving, but these little dumplings can be frozen in dough form or you can proudly show off your culinary skills and invite someone over! They don’t need to know you didn’t slave in the kitchen all day 🙂