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Ricotta Gnocchi

Here we have gnocchi (nee-yo-kee). Gnocchi is a favorite of mine, going as far back as childhood. These soft Italian dumplings always hit the spot, tossed simply with marinara and cheese. Within a low-carb way of life, I'd long assumed that gnocchi had vacated my future. Then, without really meaning to, I discovered "ricotta gnocchi".

Most all gnocchi I had growing up was a mixture of mashed potatoes, flour and eggs. This was formed into a dough, then little dumplings, which were then boiled. Over my career, I've seen different flavors and methods employed, including boiling, frying, broiling and the use of sweet potatoes, beets, spinach, nuts, etc. Every variation I'd ever heard of used flour in some way. Flour is a no no within a low-carb lifestyle.

So, what's this ricotta gnocchi? Interesting! Turns out, it's basically ricotta mixed with flour and eggs. My shoulder sank. Bummer.

Then, I found a reference to a pure ricotta variety, stemming from the Zuni Café cookbook. (Zuni Café is a famous restaurant in San Francisco ... the best hamburger on earth!)

Here's a link to the recipe I followed. My master plan had been to follow this recipe, but dust the final dumplings with parmesan cheese, rather than flour. This would work and would be significant enough of a change to warrant a new recipe!

Starting with a store bought organic, expensive, high-end ricotta (rather than making my own), I put it in a strainer over a bowl in the fridge and let it drip-dry for 24 hours. I really wanted to follow the recipe to a T. Once the ricotta is dried, the rest is fairly easy to follow along with.

I followed along with the recipe, tweaking, twiddling and twoddling, until I finally had something like a batter. I tried to form dumplings, but ... it was too loose. I refrigerated the batter to see if it would firm up. It didn't. Finally, I decided to see what would happen if I carefully dropped some batter into a pool of very hot, but very still, salted water. Imagine every molecule in the gnocchi being upset with every other molecule. When given the chance to run far far away from everything, they do. This is what adding the batter to the water was like. Everything went every which way, resulting in a pale white water, with nary a gnocchi in sight. I was beyond frustrated!

*light bulb*

Then, I remembered the Instant Mashed Potatoes that had been kicking around my cupboards. LC Foods had mentioned on their Facebook page that they'd send free samples to people willing to try them out. I submitted my info, and they immediately sent me the stuff (also some tasty trail mix!). I was energetic enough to get the free mashed potatoes, but ... a good month went by and I never tried them. I had been attacked with a severe bout of laziness.

I dug the potatoes out of my cupboard, measured a cup of it, mixed it in and tested it in water. The outer layer very briefly tried to run away from every other part of the outer layer, but then it all miraculously hung together, sank for a moment, then came bobbing back to the surface after about 1 minute. I let it cook for about 4 more minutes and then pulled it out. It was soft, but ... it held its own. I tasted it. YUM!

In the end, I was a little worried about the taste, because I've had a bad experience with instant mashed potatoes in the past. However, these were AMAZING. They were light and delicious, with precisely zero of the strange flavors stemming from other low-carb instant potatoes that I've had. Well done, LC Foods!

Forming Note: The are a few ways to form these. You can do it by rolling long logs in parmesan cheese, then cutting the logs into smaller dumplings. You can use a spoon and drop each dumpling into grated parmesan. You can also use a very small ice cream scoop for it (chances are, you won't have this, though). Here's what I did: I put the dough into a pastry bag, without a tip. I also set up a platter with freshly grated (the finest grate) parmesan cheese. Then, I placed the pastry bag in one hand, with a steak knife in the other. I extruded the dough out of the tip, while using the steak knife to cut the dough-stream every inch. This created a quick succession of small inch long cylinders, each dropping into random spots on the parmesan. I did this until I was out of dough. I tossed it in the parmesan to make sure it was evenly coated, then refrigerated it for about 30 minutes. The rest is in the recipe!

Sauce Note: the gnocchi in the photos are topped with a tomato and roasted pepper cream, but a marinara sauce would be nice, as would just very simply fried in butter, with maybe little sage and topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 d
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 535.98kcal
Author: DJ Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh ricotta cheese whole milk
  • 2 large whole eggs chilled and lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh whole butter divided
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese finely grated and divided
  • 1 cup low-carb instant mashed potatoes
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Make sure your ricotta is dry. Place it in a colander over a bowl, wrapped in plastic wrap to drip-dry over night.
  • The next day, push your ricotta through a fine meshed sieve, to make sure it's smooth. Use the back of a plastic spatula to push it through.
  • Melt 1 tbsp of your butter.
  • Add your eggs, melted butter, a dash of salt, mashed potatoes and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Mix well.
  • Form your dough into small dumplings, using any of the methods listed in the notes. Place the formed dumplings onto a platter coated with the remaining 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Make sure the dumplings are well coated with the cheese. Refrigerate the dumplings for 30 minutes up to overnight.
  • Boil a large pot of salted water. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a very slow simmer.
  • Add your gnocchi to the water, carefully. Don't just dump them in. These are delicate. Carefully pick them up and add them one at a time, or in small batches of 5 or 6. They will sink. Try and add them all over a 60 second period.
  • Once they've all been added, let them cook for 5 minutes. Never let the water boil. It should be very hot, but not boiling. The gnocchi should start floating after about 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to let them cook for 3 or so more minutes, for a total of 5.
  • With a slotted spoon, carefully lift the gnocchi out of the water and place them into a strainer, so they can dry. If you're too aggressive with these, they will fall apart. Be gentle.
  • In a large sauté pan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. The moment any of the butter begin to turn a very light shade of tan, carefully add a few gnocchi. Toss them in the pan to coat them with butter. Add a few more, toss them around. Add a new more, etc. You want them to fry in the butter. You may need to do this in two batches. A little color on the butter can add a nice flavor.
  • Once they are fried, remove them from the pan and serve them! If there is any leftover parmesan on the original gnocchi platter from the fridge, use this as a garnish!

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 535.98kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.3575g | Protein: 29.2575g | Fat: 20.75g | Fiber: 13.5375g