Basil Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Butter Sauce

From Michele Scicolone’s, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook

Serves 6

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded                                            if not using a food mill, and chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
Gnocchi:

  • One 15-ounce container ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk,
  • 6 whole fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • About 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often until tomatoes are tender and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Let the sauce cool slightly.
  3. Pass the sauce through a food mill or puree it in a food processor or blender.  Reheat gently & correct the seasoning. Just before serving stir in basil leaves.

For the Gnocchi:

  1. Place the ricotta in a strainer lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl.  Drain for at least several hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg and yolk until blended.  Add the ricotta, basil, Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Add 1 cup flour and stir just until combined.  Sprinkle some of the remaining flour on a work surface.  Turn the dough out and very gently turn it in the flour.  Handle it lightly, adding only as much flour as needed to make a soft dough.  Cut the dough into quarters.  Set aside, covered with an overturned bowl.
  3. Rinse and dry your hands and scrape the work surface clean.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and dust it with flour.  Dust the work surface with flour.
  4. Roll one quarter of the dough to a 1-inch thick log.  Cut the log into 1/2-inch slices.  Arrange the pieces on the prepared baking sheet so that they do not touch.  Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until ready to use.  (The gnocchi can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month.  To freeze, place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until firm, then transfer the gnocchi to a freezer bag, seal tightly, and freeze.)
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Have a large heated serving bowl ready.
  6. Drop half the gnocchi a few pieces at a time into the boiling water so that they do not stick together.  Stir gently.  Lower the heat so that the water is just simmering. When the gnocchi rise to the surface of the water, cook for 30 seconds more.
  7. Pour half of the sauce into a heated serving bowl.  Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in the sauce.  Spoon on half the remaining sauce.  Cover and keep warm.  Cook and drain the remaining gnocchi, add to the bowl, and top with the rest of the sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve hot.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone, HMH Publishing.