Eat: Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi with Pancetta, Roquefort and Creme Fraiche
I adapted this from a recipe by Lidia Bastianich for a spring vegetable stew with herbed ricotta gnocchi. I had some fresh pancetta, roquefort, and creme fraiche on hand, and thought they would pair nicely with the light and fluffy ricotta dumplings. Turns out they did! This is a really easy recipe… I had friends over the other night and threw it together, from scratch, in about 30 minutes. You can easily adapt this recipe by adding any fresh veggies or cheeses you have on hand. Just open a few bottles of wine and throw on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to entertain your friends while you get your cook on.
Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi
1 (15- or 16-ounce) container whole milk ricotta (drained- preferably for an hour, but 5 minutes draining is ok if you don’t have time), 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/3 cup minced parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 egg (lightly beaten), 3/4 to 1 cup flour plus more for rolling
In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmigiano, parsley, salt and egg until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add three-fourths cup flour and continue stirring until it is fully incorporated. Continue to stir in the flour, a tablespoon or 2 at a time, until the mixture forms a soft dough that holds together but may feel slightly damp; this should take a total of about 1 cup of flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured board until the dough is smooth, pliable and a little sticky.
To shape the gnocchi, divide the dough into quarters. Flour your hands lightly (do not flour the work surface). Working with 1 piece at a time, use both hands to roll out the piece of dough with a light back-and-forth motion into a rope about one-half- to three-fourths-inch thick. Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces. Line a jellyroll pan with a lightly floured tea towel and transfer the gnocchi to it. Sprinkle lightly with flour and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Hold a fork with its tines against the work surface, the curved part of the fork facing away from you. Starting from the bottom of the tines of the fork, press each piece of dough with your index finger firmly upward along the length of the tines, then let the gnocchi fall back onto the work surface. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the gnocchi have been formed. Return the gnocchi to the jellyroll pan and set aside until ready to use.
Pancetta, Roquefort and Creme Fraiche sauce
5-6 slices pancetta (cut into cubes), 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 chopped medium onion, 4 oz Roquefort (or any other good quality blue cheese), 1/2 cup creme fraiche, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, a handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.
Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add onion, and cook until transparent. Add salt and pepper to season. Add pancetta and cook until nicely done but not crispy. Add Roquefort in small chunks, creme fraiche, and Parmigiano- reduce to low heat. Allow cheese to melt together slowly. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook gnocchi until they float to the top (about 2-3 minutes). With slotted spoon, add them directly to the sauce with a little pasta water and stir to combine. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmigiano and chopped parsley.
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