Gluten Free Ricotta Gnocchi with Quick Tomato Sauce Recipe
Dressed, they are not exactly homely; they have a bland sort of appeal, respectable, sturdy, decent, ordinary. But shed of their clothing they are transformed into lush, provocative pillows of delectableness; creamy, soft and sensuous.
I am talking ravioli here. What did you think?
Naked Ravioli (or Ravioli Nudi as they are called in Italian) is basically ricotta gnocchi – like the insides of ricotta ravioli without the pasta wrapping. And my-oh-my are they heavenly.
Many moons ago, a friend of mine and I decided to throw a dinner party for a group of friends and (foolishly) decided to make homemade ravioli. We toiled for hours and hours, making homemade pasta, rolling, cutting, drying and cutting again and then filling the pasta with parmesan flavored ricotta and carefully pinching every single square of pasta to seal them so they wouldn’t burst when cooked. Despite all our careful pinching there were still a few that did burst and I found myself fishing out the cooked filling that had escaped their doughy (gluten-filled) outsides and settled at the bottom of the pot. They were without a doubt my favorite part of the meal.
That meal took us forever to prepare and yes, it was good enough for company, however, we were too tired to enjoy our guests or the fruits of our hard labor. Preparing this gluten-free naked ravioli and sauce took me somewhere under 45 minutes (not counting the time to drain the ricotta) and was good enough to serve visiting diplomats or Hugh Jackman, or more importantly, my family.
There are few things you need to know to ensure perfect success.
No Whey! You need to drain the whey off the ricotta. This is simple. Place your ricotta in a strainer or wrap in some cheese cloth and put in a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid, top with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or up to 24 hours). This will ensure your ricotta is nice and dry which will keep your gnocchi from becoming too dense.
Easy Tiger. Go easy on the salt and nutmeg. The Parmesan adds a good bit of saltiness and you only need a couple of small gratings of nutmeg – you do not want eggnog flavored dumplings.
Enough is enough! Add just as much potato starch as is necessary to keep the gnocchi together so they stay nice and light. Which brings me to my next tip…
Testing, testing, testing. Add the minimum amount of potato starch and then drop a spoonful in some boiling water. If it falls apart when you push on it gently, you need more. If it stays together, firmly but still soft, you got it! Depending on the humidity and all sorts of factors, this amount can change from day to day so don’t skip the testing. (I usually use about 7 tablespoons.)
Believe it or not, I had some left over so I stored the gnocchi and sauce separately in the fridge and then reheated the gnocchi in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so and served with re-heated sauce. Perfectly yummy the second time around.
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 2 large eggs
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼-½ cup potato starch or gluten free all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small onion finely diced
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 (35-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes drained and sauce reserved
- 6-7 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- Black pepper
Place ricotta cheese in a strainer or wrap in some cheese cloth and put in a colander and set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the ricotta and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
Mix the drained ricotta with the Parmesan cheese, eggs, small pinch of salt, and nutmeg until well blended. Starting with ¼ cup, add potato starch to the mixture and blend well to form the gnocchi batter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop a big spoonful of the batter into the boiling water (I use a 1-tablespoon ice cream scoop). Cook until it swells and rises to the top, about 2-3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove from the water and gently push it with your finger. If it falls apart, you need to add more potato starch to your batter. Repeat until one gnocchi comes out perfect. At this point, prepare the sauce, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water and keep the rest of the cooking water warm until time to cook the remaining gnocchi.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and crushed red pepper and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and break them up with a spatula into rough chunks. Add ¼ cup of reserved cooking water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend the sauce either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender until almost smooth but not pureed. If blending in a regular blender, remove the plastic insert from the top and hold a kitchen towel over the top to keep it from exploding. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Return the sauce to the pan and stir in the chopped basil. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Keep warm while cooking the gnocchi.
Return the large pan of salted water to a boil. Drop the gnocchi batter into the boiling water with either a large spoon or small ice cream scoop – do this in 2 or 3 batches so there are only about 8-12 gnocchi in the pan at a time. Cook until the gnocchi swell and float to the top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, spider skimmer or mesh strainer with a long handle. Blot with a clean tea towel and place on a plate. Keep warm until all the gnocchi are cooked.
Ladle some sauce on the plate, spread it out a bit and place 4-6 gnocchi on top. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
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