These pan-fried lemon ricotta gnocchi are like little pillows of goodness! Rather than the traditional gnocchi made with potatoes, these are made with ricotta cheese for a less-dense texture. Delicate in flavor and dressed simply with red chiles, lemon zest and a sprinkling of parmesan, I’ve got to say that this is one of my favorite dishes I’ve made to date – And it’s perfect for Meatless Monday!
Here in Portland, the month of March is Portland Dining Month – Over 100 restaurants participate in a three course dining menu for $29. My boyfriend and I always try to hit up as many new restaurants as we can during this special event. We’ve found many of our favorite restaurants this way. This year we tried Little Bird Bistro, a great french restaurant, Fogo de Chao, the Brazilian steakhouse where it’s impossible not to gorge yourself, Autentica, a lovely little mexican spot, and Departure, a modern restaurant with the BEST view in town.
Needless to say, I’ve had a bit of a break from cooking this month. So the dishes that I have prepared, I’ve found a new energy for trying more intimidating recipes. Gnocchi has always been a dish that seems a bit labor intensive. But really, it’s no more difficult than making a loaf of bread. The most difficult part of this recipe is getting your dough to just the right, workable texture. It can’t be too sticky, but you don’t want it to get too dense either. So, we add the flour little by little, until it feels just right. Then, the dough is rolled into snake-like figures and cut into 3/4″ pieces. I skip adding ridges to the gnocchi, because once they’re cooked, they tend to disappear anyways. Once you’ve reached this point, it’s smooth sailing.
Cook the pillow-like gnocchi in boiling water until they float to the surface. To finish, we’ll simply brown each side of the gnocchi in a sizzling skillet of browned butter, sprinkle in some peppers for added zip, and then plate. Top these golden nuggets with additional parmesan, parsley and lemon zest and you’re in for a real treat.
I like to serve this simple italian dish with this arugula salad, the peppery bite of the arugula is a great match for the buttery flavors of the gnocchi.
Pan Fried Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
- ounce One 16- container whole-milk ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan plus extra reserved for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus extra reserved for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup to 1 flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced red jalapeno plus extra reserved for garnish, or red pepper flakes
- Italian parsley chopped, for garnish
Set a strainer line with three coffee filters or paper towels over a bowl. Add the ricotta and let the cheese drain for about an hour. (This can be done several days in advance.)
In a large bowl, mix the strained ricotta, egg, cheese, nutmeg, lemon zest and 3/4 cup of the flour until all ingredients are incorporated. Check the dough by rolling a bit in your hand. If it clings to your fingers, incorporate more flour one tablespoon at a time until you reach a tacky but workable consistency. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle your hands and work surface with a little flour. Break off a tennis-ball sized piece of the dough and roll it into a thick log about 3/4-inch thick.
Cut the log into 3/4" pieces. I like to use a bench scraper for this job. You can leave them as little 'pillows' or shape them into the traditional grooved gnocchi by rolling them off the back of a fork with your thumb.
Transfer the gnocchi to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Repeat rolling process with the remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half of the gnocchi and gently stir to be sure that they don’t stick together. Once they float to the surface, let them cook for an additional 1 minute. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl ice water to stop the cooking process. Repeat this process with the remaining gnocchi.
While the gnocchi are cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let the butter brown slightly and then add your drained gnocchi in a single layer (you may need to do this in a couple batches). Fry on one side for 2 minutes, then flip and add chili. Fry for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, and additional red pepper (if desired).
The gnocchi can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a few days until ready to use. Alternatively, you can freeze the gnocchi for up to three months. Simply cook from frozen in boiling water – no need to thaw.
- White: I would choose an unoaked chardonnay to pair with the light, buttery gnocchi. The creaminess yet clean taste of a chardonnay is a good match for the brown butter and the fluffy, tangy ricotta.
- Red: The delicate flavors of this dish call for a lighter red wine. Go for an Italian lambrusco or a pinot noir.