I LOVED my first Daring Cooks challenge. The gnocchi was light and fresh and full of flavor. And, I have to say it was much simpler than I thought it would be. I've made potato gnocchi before which was also delicious, but this was far better! Also, far richer, but hey, once in a while, this is a great indulgence.
I couldn't find fresh ricotta, so used store-bought. Next time, I think I'll try it with paneer. Maybe it might even work with non-fat paneer? Hmm.
(recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook)
2 cups fresh Ricotta
2 large cold Eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Butter, melted
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/4 tsp Salt
All-Purpose Flour for rolling the gnocchi
Tie the ricotta in a muslin cloth and strain it overnight. It took me the night and the entire next day to finally strain all the water out of the ricotta. I resorted to placing a heavy weight on the muslin cloth, which really helped.
Place the drained ricotta in a bowl and mash slightly with the back of a spoon to make it smooth. Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Add melted butter, cheese and salt and combine to get a smooth and fluffy mixture. Add any flavorings you'd like, though try to keep it simple since you don't want to weigh down the cheese. I kept it simple without any additions.
Make a bed of all-purpose flour about a 1/4" thick on a baking sheet or tray. Also put a saucepan of water, heavily salted, on the stove and let it begin to simmer.
Take about 2-3 tsps of the mixture and gently push it out onto the bed of flour. With the spoon or the tip of your finger roll the cheese over the flour, so most parts of it get coated with a thin film of flour. Gently pick up the cheese and cradle it in both hands and move it from one hand to another being careful not to squeeze too tight or the gnocchi won't be light. Try to get the gnocchi into an oval shape.
Gently lower the gnocchi into the simmering water. It will sink and then rise to the top. Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes. If the gnocchi falls apart, there was too much water in the ricotta - add one egg white to the mixture and beat it in - that should hold it together.
If it doesn't fall apart (mine didn't), then great. Go ahead and make the rest of the cheese into gnocchi and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour and firm up.
Bring the water back up to a simmer and slip 3-4 gnocchi into the water at a time and cook for 3-5 minutes (as in the test done earlier). Remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve warm with your choice of sauce. I really wanted to do pesto, but was afraid it might be too heavy. So I just drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and grated some fresh Parmesan on top with some black pepper.
I don't think there's any doubt I'll make this again. It was simple and delicious and a sure crowd-pleaser. Thanks to Ivonne and Lisa for a wonderful first challenge and I'm excited to be part of the Daring Cooks!