Category Archives: ricotta

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi is truly a comfort food. The best thing is that it feels really special but is really fast and easy to make. You can flavor it a million different ways, but when I crave it, the classic mozzarella, tomato and basil takes the cake.

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Ricotta Gnocchi
2 large eggs
15 oz ricotta, just under 2 cups
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup flour
8 oz can of tomato sauce
½ lb mini mozzarella balls, quartered
1 bunch basil leaves, chiffonade
4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
salt and pepper

Heat a large pot of lightly salted water, to boil on high heat.

In a metal bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the ricotta, cheese and spices. Mix thoroughly with a fork, make sure to break up all of the cheese clumps. Add in the flour and stir to combine. Generously flour your work surface then finish mixing the dough with your hands, it will be pretty wet. Cut the dough in half and roll it in the flour, to coat the outside. Then roll it out into a long snake, till it is about 1 inch in diameter. Using a small paring knife, cut into 1 inch pieces.

Once the water comes to a boil, drop the first batch of gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to over crowd the pan. Let it boil for about 5 minutes till done. It will all rise to the top and the water will start to boil higher. While the first batch is cooking, roll out the other batch and cut it. Remove one piece of gnocchi and run it under cold water and taste it to make sure it is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, drain the first batch to a colander, rinse quickly in cold water to keep it from sticking. Add more water to the pot and return it to a boil. Once boiling, add in the second batch of gnocchi and cook it till done. Drain the cooked gnocchi.

Heat the can of sauce on medium high heat. Taste it and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the mozzarella, basil, grated cheese and gnocchi into the sauce. Toss everything together and serve immediately.

Suburban Farming

I was just in DC to visit my family and excited to raid my mom’s garden. Every summer their suburban yard transforms into a farm. They grow tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, herbs, strawberries, lettuce and whatever else meats their fancy. I took home a horde of tomatoes and zucchini and had no idea what to do with them. So I made strata. It is very similar to lasagna, but instead of using noodles, you use slices of zucchini.

Italian Zucchini Strata

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 links of fresh sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
4 links of fresh hot Italian sausage, casing removed
½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
9 tomatoes
15 ounces ricotta
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sautee until they are soft and translucent. Add the sausages and Italian seasoning. Break up the sausage with the back of your wooden spoon. Chop 4 of the tomatoes and add to the sausage. Stir and cook to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Using a mandolin or really good knife skills, slice the zucchini lengthwise to make thin flat strips.

To assemble the strata, put down a layer of the tomato sausage mixture. Layer with the zucchini, making sure that the zucchini fits together tight and there is no sausage exposed. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Then spread half of the ricotta over the zucchini and then cover with the sausage and repeat the layering process.

Slice the remaining tomatoes and place them in one layer on top of the last layer of sausage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven for an hour until it is cooked through and the cheese is golden brown.

Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Being very careful, tip the lasagna over the sink and drain out all of the excess fat and liquid from the zucchini. Cut into squares and serve.

Honing My Skills

There are certain things in the kitchen that scare me to death. Homemade gnocchi tops the list. I can never seem to get it right even when I use pre-made gnocchi. However I was poking around and saw a few posts on the ease of ricotta gnocchi. This came out perfect. Its so simple and clean and most of all satisfying.

Sage and Brown Butter Ricotta Gnocchi

2 large eggs
15 oz ricotta, just under 2 cups
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup flour
½ stick unsalted butter
20 fresh sage leaves
Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated for garnish

Heat a large pot of lightly salted water, to boil on high heat.

In a metal bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the ricotta, cheese and spices. Mix thoroughly with a fork, make sure to break up all of the cheese clumps. Add in the flour and stir to combine. Generously flour your work surface then finish mixing the dough with your hands, it will be pretty wet. Cut the dough in half and roll it in the flour, to coat the outside. Then roll it out into a long snake, till it is about 1 inch in diameter. Using a small paring knife, cut into 1 inch pieces.

Once the water comes to a boil, drop the first batch of gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to over crowd the pan. Let it boil for about 5 minutes till done. It will all rise to the top and the water will start to boil higher. While the first batch is cooking, roll out the other batch and cut it. Remove one piece of gnocchi and run it under cold water and taste it to make sure it is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, drain the first batch to a colander, rinse quickly in cold water to keep it from sticking. Add more water to the pot and return it to a boil. Once boiling, add in the second batch of gnocchi and cook it till done. Drain the cooked gnocchi.

In a large skillet, start to melt the butter. Once the butter is completely melted, add in the sage leaves and stir. Once the leaves look like they are getting crisp and the butter is starting to turn a light brown, add the cooked gnocchi to the pan. Quickly toss to coat in the butter then let it sit for 1 minute to brown. Gently toss the gnocchi again and leave to brown for another minute.

Serve the gnocchi in a bowl, including some of the sage leaves and sprinkle with the freshly grated cheese.