Imagine having a few too many drinks at your uncle’s 50th birthday party and then your mother invites you over the next day to learn how to make gnocchi. I woke up and don’t remember the night, but I do remember the promise of fresh pasta.
I wanted to share the experience I had while watching my mother take just flour and ricotta and turn them into something that sauce perfectly adhered to and melted in your mouth, all while not leaving you stuffed.
2 lbs of Ricotta (we used Poly-O original)
6-8 cups of All-purpose flour
Tools: (optional) certainly makes it easier
Makes approx 2 lbs (extra to freeze)
Make sure you have a clean stable work surface. My mom has a special board she had made for pasta and struffoli’s (honey balls). This is not required, but makes for an easy, low hassle working surface. Scoop out the ricotta into a pile and make a well in the center by taking a spoon and going in a circular motion.
Then you just need to add the flour in increments, mixing with your hands, until the right consistency in formed. Very similar to other pasta dough’s, it can’t be too sticky. If it continues to stick to your fingers, keep adding flour. The reason you add the flour in increments, is that you don’t want it to become too dry.
You’ll notice the dough is sticky, but not forming together. Keep adding flour and kneading it with your hands.
The dough is finally starting to come together and resemble a log. With an un-floured finger, try poking the dough and it you don’t stick, then the dough will be ready for rolling out.
Now comes the fun part. Place the dough in the corner of your workspace, since you are going to need plenty of room for rolling out and cutting. Cover the dough with a clean towel and using your bench scrapper or a knife, cut a 2 inch piece off at a time. Roll this into a 1/2″ thick log, you can make them as big or small as you would like.
Next, using the bench scrapper or a knife, cut them into 3/4″
You can cook them if you wanted to now, but traditional gnocchi have ridges. To create the ridges, press each piece of dough against the front of a fork then gently roll up and around the back of the fork. If you the dough is sticking to the fork, dust the fork lightly with flour. If you happen to have a wooden gnocchi board, then you just press the dough at the top and roll it down.
After each rope is cut and formed into gnocchi, using your bench scrapper or a spatula, place them onto a lightly floured baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. This makes it easier to transport them to the water, once you’re ready to cook them.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and gently add the gnocchi, they will cook very fast. Approx 5-6 minutes and they will start floating to the top. Make sure you have an official pasta tester who has agreed to judge the doneness. That would be my dad. He’s the most picky eater and he loves his pasta, so were not done until he says so.
Once Big John says the pasta is done, then drain them and toss with your favorite sauce. We’ve got mom’s homemade sauce of course.
Enjoy. Not only is the pasta delicious, its fun to make and brings everyone together. That has to be the most rewarding thing about food.