Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato, Goat Cheese & Basil
San Marzano tomatoes. grown at the base of Mount Vesuvius in rich volcanic soil, sport a sweeter flavor and lower acidity than other canned tomatoes. Any creamy, mild goat cheese works well.
Gnocchi are the Italian equivalent of Chinese dumplings. Potato gnocchi, dollops of starchy belly filling goodness, take a bit of practice and elbow grease. Ricotta gnocchi on the other hand, are perfect for the gnocchi novice and make delightfully, light, and fluffy cheese pillows. The goat cheese tomato sauce adds a bit of tang and heavenly creaminess to the finished dish. Serve alongside a perfectly roasted chicken and simple plate of lightly dressed greens for a decadent, prepared in under an hour, soul satisfying, Italian-inspired weeknight dinner.
28 ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, halved
15 ounce whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
3/4 to 1 cup flour
4 ounces mild goat cheese
1 cup packed basil leaves, torn into pieces
1. Put the tomatoes, butter, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a 2.75 QUART POT. Place the halved onion on top and bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Lower the temperature and cook for 45 minutes.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a LARGE WIDE MOUTHED POT. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
3. Combine the ricotta, eggs and Parmesan in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup flour and add more flour as necessary until the mixture forms a very sticky dough. Test the dough's consistency by dropping 1/2 tablespoon of dough into the boiling water to make sure it holds its shape when it floats to the surface. Stir in a bit more flour into the dough if it does not (it should still be sticky). Repeat until the dough holds its shape.
4. Transfer the gnocchi dough to a plastic pastry bag. Cut the tip of the bag so that it is 1/2" wide. Tie kitchen string from one side of the pot of boiling water to the other. Begin squeezing the gnocchi out of the pastry bag until it is 3/4" long. Use the string to cut the gnocchi from the bag. Add about 12 gnocchi before resting.
5. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot. Transfer gnocchi to a paper towel to drain excess water and then place them in a GRATIN DISH. Continue boiling all of the gnocchi dough.
6. Remove the onion from the tomato sauce and discard. Stir in the goat cheese. When the goat cheese is incorporated, add all but a few of the torn basil leaves and stir.
7. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and finish with the reserved basil leaves and some freshly shaved Parmesan. Serve immediately.