Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ricotta Gnocchi with Arugula Pesto and Mushroom Cream Sauce

Several weeks ago I took my first cooking class with my friend, Sandy.  We went to our local Sur la Table, and learned how to make three different kinds of gnocchi, and three different sauces.  We had an awesome time, learned a lot, and ate some serious pasta!

Recently I have hardly been home long enough to turn on the lights before I brush my teeth and fall exhausted into bed, let alone make delicious, blog-worthy food.  Last night I planned to make these Ricotta Gnocchis, but unfortunately I forgot to buy cheesecloth when I went shopping, so I pushed it off till tonight.  

So, here is my first attempt at making gnocchi at home all by myself.  Here goes nothing!

You will need:

For the gnocci:

15 oz. ricotta cheese (I used whole milk, but any will work)
1 egg
4 Tbsp chopped basil
6 Tbsp flour
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper (1 tsp, 1/2 tsp)

extra flour for the counter etc.
cheesecloth for the ricotta
fork or gnocchi paddle for rolling

For the sauce:

4 c. arugula
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic ( I omitted this because I don't enjoy raw garlic)
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c. olive oil

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced (or 1 small onion)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 c. cream
salt and pepper

To start, put a colander in a bowl and line it with cheesecloth.  Then add the ricotta and allow it to drain in the fridge for about an hour.  

Once it's drained (now, I'll admit that there wasn't anything in the bowl after an hour so maybe it's just the moisture that the cheesecloth soaks up?), pulse the ricotta in the food processor to break it up and then mix it in a large bowl with the egg, basil, salt, and pepper.  Then add and fold in the cheese, flour, and panko. 

Flour your work surface, break it into 4ths, and roll out one section at a time to a snake about the diameter of your thumb.  

Use a bench scraper or knife to cut off little pieces, and then gently roll them down the back of a fork.  Put them on a floured cookie sheet and cover them with a kitchen towel until you are ready to cook them. 

Now, I actually decided to prep my sauce and make the pesto part of the sauce while I was waiting for the ricotta to drain.  Put the arugula, nuts, cheese, and garlic in a food processor, pulse it for about 20 seconds, and then while it's still running, stream in your oil.  

Then get the other part of your sauce going before you drop your gnocchi.  Oh, and you may as well get some water boiling (a big pot!)  In a large pan, heat your oil over med. high heat and saute your shallots or onions until they are soft.  Then add your mushrooms.  Now, they will go through a stage where they look too dry and you will be tempted to add more oil.  Don't!  They will power through and soften up, get brown and delicious, just be patient.  Once they they are cooked, add the garlic, thyme, and season to taste.  Then you can add the cream and let it simmer.  Finally, add the pesto to taste and simmer it until your gnocci is cooked.  

This looks much less green than it does in real life...  Sorry!
So, now salt your boiling water and add your gnocchi in batches.  Wait until they float, then give them another minute, scoop them out and add them to your saute pan of sauce. Keep cooking them and adding them until they are all finished. 

 If you can't eat them all, you can freeze your uncooked gnocchi.  Just put them on a sheet pan and put them in the freezer for a while, once they are frozen, throw them in a storage bag or container and keep them in the freezer.  Cook them the same way, no need to thaw them first! What I did was wrap half of my dough in seran wrap and put it in the fridge until tomorrow.  I also set aside half of the sauce.  I may end up freezing some of them, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow!  Tonight, I was too hungry and impatient to roll them all out! This really would be a fun dinner to make with a friend or loved one because you could put them to work rolling the gnocci!

Serve and enjoy!  


  1. I can't wait to try these... they sound so yummy! Even better... I can't wait to try to make them myself! I love all the helpful hints! :)

    1. Definitely give them a try! I just finished them off tonight and they were so good, even the ones I froze!

  2. I am so impressed Lindsay! I am sharing your recipe with my sister. We have a ton of arugula in the garden . This is perrrrfect!
    :) Beth

    1. Thanks, Beth! They are delicious, and I love using arugula as an alternative to basil in pesto; it's so peppery!