A few years ago a group of women gathered for a bachelorette party. It wasn’t an entirely traditional bachelorette party, and we began it in what was not an entirely traditional sort of way. Making gnocchi.
The bride-to-be, my good friend Sarah, is an excellent cook. One of our final dinners before moving to Bangkok was an American-style dinner worthy of Paula Deen that Sarah made for Frank and I. We ate enough fried chicken and mashed potatoes and bright green salad to strengthen us for the flight to Thailand and the weeks of transition ahead.
So it was fitting that a number of years ago, before Sarah got married, we found a cooking class to kick off her bachelorette weekend. Our caravan of cars that Saturday got lost several times in signal-less cell phone territory, but when we finally arrived it was to a bright open home and a kitchen so full of fresh herbs and fragrant ingredients that we could just as easily have been in Tuscany as in rural Maryland.
It was a fantastic day. We drank wine, told stories, and celebrated Sarah. We also made an enormous batch of gnocchi. They were imperfect potato dumplings of various sizes with a decidedly rustic feel. But those little pillows of potato were deeply satisfying.
That day I vowed that gnocchi-making would be part of my regular routine. I imagined serving platters piled impressively high with those dumplings tossed in little more than a basic marinara or fresh herbs and good grated cheese.
But I bet you can guess how many times I’ve made gnocchi since that Saturday bachelorette-party cooking class.
Not a one.
Until this weekend.
When I saw these Ricotta Gnocchi on Nancy’s site, The Busy Mom Cafe, thanks to this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I knew it was time to revisit the long-forgotten gnocchi. As the title implies, these are not the potato gnocchi I made so many years ago. In fact, it was the simplicity of this technique that uses ricotta and flour togive the dumplings their shape that sold me entirely on the recipe.
They are simple enough to make me want to tackle the potato variety again, but the ricotta version will be one I make again as well. They are surprisingly light in texture, and would go great with any number of sauces. I chose to keep it simple with this springy mix of fresh herbs and bacon for a bit of crunch.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Herbed Butter and Bacon
For the Gnocchi:
- 1 (8-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (such as rosemary, basil, green onions)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
- extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, cheese, and salt. Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring between each addition, until the dough forms a wet ball that is cohesive enough to be handled. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and divide it into fourths. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about 1 inch thick. Cut dough into 1-inch pieces with a knife. (Note: At this point, you can roll the dough pieces down the tines of a fork to create grooves. This gives them a bit of texture, but is not at all necessary.) Place the dumplings on a light-floured parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 8 hours).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove gnocchi from the refrigerator and cook in the boiling water in 2 batches. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. (They will float to the surface midway through cooking, but will need to cook for a few minutes longer.)
- While the gnocchi are cooking, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the fresh herbs and salt and cook, stirring constantly, just until the herbs brighten in color and are coated in butter. Turn off the heat. Strain the cooked gnocchi and transfer it from the boiling water to the herbed butter and toss gently to coat. Top with black pepper, bacon, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.