Potato Ricotta Gnocchi with a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

I have a love-hate relationship with pasta-making, but with the passage of time, whatever my last experience was, the idea of making pasta sounds better and better to me. So like a moth to the flame, I come back to it. Plus, it had been so long since I last tried my hand at gnocchi, so it seemed like it was time for me to try it again. Plus, after having the most spectacular gnudi when I was at The Spotted Pig a few weeks back, gnudi and gnocchi have been on my mind. So today, I’ve made a potato and ricotta based gnocchi (and some day in the future, gnudi!).

Potato Ricotta Gnocchi

With gnocchi on the brain, I looked to see what some of my favorite fellow food bloggers had done in the past before my heart was set on this particular rendition from the Zen man. Unfortunately, my wife wasn’t too excited about the pork and greens involved (one of these days!), so I instead made a light basil tomato cream sauce, tossed with crispy leeks and shitake mushrooms to go with the gnocchi.

When I work with any recipe where the dough is truly center-stage, I get stage fright. I worry that I’m going to over-handle the dough–a vague and mysterious term (what is “too much” handling?) that can turn the most spectacular dough into flour-based bullets. Gnocchi is highly susceptible to this since you have flour (so you have gluten) and potato (starch), so I approached it with some trepidation as kneading and rolling the dough just a bit too much could ruin it all.

Much to my delight, nothing of the sort happened–this was the fabled light and pillowy gnocchi! It was tender, airy, and delicious–very much the whole point of home-made, fresh pasta. The gnocchi itself was made of both potato and ricotta and was tossed in a slowly simmered, simple tomato sauce. I didn’t want to do anything crazy with the sauce since I wanted the gnocchi itself to be the star of the show, and all together, it was a very satisfying meal.

  • Gnocchi
    • ~4 lbs yukon gold potatoes
    • 2.5 cups flour
    • 2 Tbsp salt
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
    • olive oil
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 celery
    • 1 shallot
    • 6-8 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • ~1.5 cups chicken stock
    • 1 can whole, peeled san marzano tomatoes (~28 oz)
    • handful fresh basil leaves
    • ~1/4 cup cream
    • 1 leek
    • ~4 oz shitake mushrooms

Simmer the tomato sauce

Since the sauce takes time, start on this first. That way, it can slowly simmer while you make the gnocchi (which will take you a while). Begin by finely mincing the shallot, celery, and carrot. Sweat these in a spot of olive oil in a hot pan for about 8 minutes over medium high heat. Add the finely minced garlic and sauté for another minute before you deglaze with the white wine and stock. Crush the whole tomatoes one by one as you add them to the pot.

Drop the heat to low medium and simmer for about 1.5-2 hours. Once done, chiffonade the basil into long thin strips, adding them to the sauce along with the cream.

Meanwhile, finely mince strips of the pale part of the leek and coarsely chop the tops of the mushrooms (discard the woody stems). In a clean pan, sauté these in a spot of olive oil with a dash of salt, giving it roughly 10-15 minutes. Things will look a little mushy for a while as the mushrooms release water, but then later, it will dry up a bit and caramelize a bit (this is what you want). Once crisped nicely, toss these into the sauce just prior to serving.

Push the boiled, peeled, baked potatoes through a ricer

So while the sauce is simmering away all the while. on to the gnocchi. Begin by boiling the potatoes in water until fork tender (figure that takes 20 minutes, give or take). Drain and peel off the skins while hot. Chop the potatoes into quarters (or so) and spread them out on a baking sheet. Put this in a 400°F oven for 5 minutes to take out some of the moisture.

While the potatoes are still hot, push them through a ricer into a large bowl. Do not even think of using a food processor or a blender or you’ll be making glue.

Work the potato with the remaining dough ingredients until a dough is formed

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix all of the other dough items (flour, ricotta, egg, etc). Don’t worry about mixing it super thoroughly and making it perfectly homogenous. Work this into the potato. Handle the dough as little as is necessary to make the dough somewhat homogenous. Again, no food processors or anything like that. Roll up your sleeves and use your hands. It won’t take a lot of effort really, so don’t be going at it for 10 minutes or anything like that.

Roll long cylinders of the dough

With your dough ready to work with, divide it into 8 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece out to be roughly 1/2 inch diameter cylinders. If it gets too long and unwieldy, cut it in half. Just like when you were kneading the dough before, try to keep the handling to a minimum (so don’t go balling it up, rolling it out, starting over, etc. Just roll it out and stop).

Cut and indent each gnocchi

With your dough rolled out into cylinders, cut them in roughly 1 inch long segments. Press/roll these pieces against the tines of a fork (to make an imprint on the gnochhi) and set them aside as you go.

Once you’re ready to eat, the rest is just like making any other pasta. Get some water boiling and add the gnocchi. I did this in four batches so as not to overcrowd my pot.

With the gnocchi boiling, don’t you go wandering too far. They cook fairly quickly (under 5 minutes), and as I discovered, they do not take kindly to overcooking (my first batch all burst in the pan and formed one gigantic mass of gnocchi. Woops!). Gently stir periodically, and as soon as they float to the top of the water, fish them out. That floating is like a built-in timer for each individual gnocchi so don’t you ignore it!

Potato Ricotta Gnocchi

Finally, with the gnocchi cooked and drained, gently toss it in the sauce and serve. Enjoy!

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29 Responses to “Potato Ricotta Gnocchi with a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce”

  1. aforkfulofspaghetti Says:

    Ooooh, first!

    Well done for conquering your trepidation and emerging gloriously successful, Mike – they look fabulous!

    I, too, am a bit nervous around gnocchi. Stupidly tried making them first time with sweet potato, which was far too wet… A disaster from which I’ve never fully recovered…

    Given your great success, I might now try again!

  2. Meeta Says:

    i love gnocchi and this is a perfect dinner. no need for the stage fright!

  3. we are never full Says:

    nice, mike. they look bee-u-tee-ful. AGAIN, i thank you SO much for the shout. the only extra tip I’m going to give your readers is that if you do not have a ricer (which, i can’t believe it, we don’t), you can get a really wonderful, light and fluffy potato by using the larger hole side of your box grater. works like a charm – just watch your fingers!

  4. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy Says:

    Hmmm. I’ve made ricotta gnocchi and I’ve made potato gnocchi. But, I’ve never thought to combine the two. They look perfectly light and pillowy. The best of both worlds! Well done!

  5. mikky Says:

    never tried one… your rendition to this looks inviting… :)

  6. pam Says:

    I’ve never made fresh pasta, but this looks almost do-able.

  7. grace Says:

    anyone and everyone who endeavors to make their own pasta gets three gold stars from me–i’m madly impressed. your little gnocchi look perfect, and that sauce sounds fantastic. yeah…i could go for a little italian tonight. :)

  8. Heather Says:

    ohhh. we love gnocchi around the fanatic foodie house. yours looks just wonderful, that cream sauce sounds amazing. this is going on my to-make list asap!!

  9. Marie Says:

    Mike, These look terrific! I want some now!

  10. Sam Says:

    I’ve made pasta before but never gnocchi, they look delicious and the sauce sounds fantastic.

  11. lisa (dandysugar) Says:

    This looks amazing. I love gnocchi. I love all the flavors in the sauce. Sounds really dreamy.

  12. RecipeGirl Says:

    You’re killin’ me here… this is like my favorite thing to eat in the whole world. YUMMM!

  13. Kevin Says:

    Gnocchi can be a bit of work but it is well worth it. I like to serve it with a simple tomato sauce as well.

  14. nithya at hungrydesi Says:

    these look delicious…you have one lucky wife :) gnocchi looks like a lot of work but i’ll definitely try this sauce.

  15. Peter Says:

    At the insistance of the Zen-man, a ricer is a must and a ricer I must get.

    Mike, I’m enjoying the pasta-making phase and this would complement a nice slow-braised lamb shank.

  16. zenchef Says:

    Thank you for the plug and for trying this recipe Mike! You did a heck of a good job. I had the ones at the Spotted Pig and i want to try my hand at those now.

    Next time you come to New York you’re going home with a slab of guanciale.. courtesy of the zenman. haha.

  17. brilynn Says:

    I love pasta making! I failed at it tonight though when I tried to improvise on a perfectly good dough recipe…
    Your gnocchi look great!

  18. sharon Says:

    I’ve always wanted to make homemade gnocchi and yours is absolutely perfect!

  19. Sophie Says:

    The gnocci look utterly delicious! What a lovely dish!!

  20. kalofagas.ca - Greek Food & Beyond » Blog Archive » Making Gnocchi With a Side of Veal Milanese Says:

    [...] first for me but I was sure to consult two trusted friends in the food blogging world, Mike of Mike’s Table and Stephane of Zen Can Cook. Both of their posts on making gnocchi were inspiration and they [...]

  21. Karen Says:

    Being my first attempt at making gnocchi, this took me ‘forever’ (!?*) ……….but it was worth it! Trid some other recipes since and none come close. Thank you!

  22. Chris Says:

    I grew up making gnocchi with my mom, and have always loved it but rarely order it in a restaurant since they’re usually bricks. There was one restaurant that served great gnocchi and the chef told me it was a combo of ricotta and potatoes. I searched till I found this recipe and it is, indeed, superb. Take it from a 100% Italian mom and now grandma. My only caution is that they did not cook well after freezing. I dropped them (frozen) into boiling water and some pretty much turned to mush. Seems the larger they were the better they stayed together. It was ok for family, but not for company. This recipe makes enough for 6 main dish meals. So either cut it back, save for leftovers or eat’em all!! Perhaps cooking them all and freezing with sauce may solve this. Anyone try it, let us know!

  23. Mary Vincent Says:

    I have been serching for a recipe for gnocchi with both potato & ricotta. I used to make them with my Italian mother in law. Her recipe was with 5lbs. of flour etc. Don’t want to make that much with my family of eight. I was delighted to find this one. The only suggestion is adding some fresh grated nutmeg to the recipe. It adds a great touch. Thank you for this recipe, we are makeing it for the holidays. This way I can pass on the tradition….Me, my daughters, and granddaughters. Mary V.

  24. Cooking Shenanigans Says:

    [...] Usually, when I make gnocchi, I either use a package, or I make non-traditional gnocchi out of either butternut squash or sweet potato. Since Ericka had never had a fresh gnocchi, only sub-par packaged ones, our mission was clear. I used this beautiful recipe from Mike’s Table. [...]

  25. supper tonight – 4.16.12 – gnocchi with mushrooms and sage « humble feast Says:

    [...] of spuds plus about a cup of save-the-milk-before-it-rots ricotta, and it immediately made sense to cook this gnocchi recipe from Mike’s Table. (Not the sauce, just the gnocchi, possibly with substitutions…? I can’t tell you how [...]

  26. ngo bao long Says:

    gnocchi very good thanh you for you

  27. Edison Marciel Says:

    Love is all you need

  28. restaurant architect Says:

    Very easy recipe to create. I did not have any tinned mushrooms so utilized contemporary, chopped mushrooms which I extra on the pasta about
    five minutes ahead of the close with the cooking time, together with some prawns
    I also additional some sweetcorn to sneak in a few supplemental
    veg for my teenaged son. He cherished it, as did the remainder
    of the spouse and children. I also put into use Gluten-free pasta and flour and soya milk and goat’s butter as I’m able to
    tolerate neither gluten nor cow-dairy. Everything tasted very good!

    Many thanks for publishing the recipe.

  29. stu Says:

    did you drain the ricotta overnight first?

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