Ricotta gnocchi are pillowy soft dumplings that melt in your mouth! They're made from ricotta, egg, cheese and a small amount of flour. Making gnocchi with ricotta is easier than potatoes, in my opinion, but just as fluffy, light and delicious as regular gnocchi! Serve with your favorite tomato sauce, or try my brown butter, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles!
I feel like I say this a lot, but this is truly one of our favorite dinners for two. Pillow-soft dumplings coated in a slightly tangy blue cheese sauce with crunchy walnuts on top is a restaurant meal that you can absolutely make it home! Gnocchi can be finicky to make, but by using ricotta, we're making them so much easier.
What are gnocchi?
Gnocchi, if you've never had them, are soft bite-size dumplings typically made from boiled potatoes. The potatoes are cooked, and run through a potato ricer before adding a small amount of flour and eggs to hold everything together in a light dough. Typically, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper are in the mix, too. When they're briefly boiled in water, the dumplings are melt-in-your-mouth tender. Because potatoes can vary in starch content, and their water content can vary depending on how they are cooked, potato gnocchi can be difficult to make with perfect, repeatable results.
I like guaranteed results in a recipe, and I'm sure you feel the same way. So, when I read that you can use ricotta in place of potatoes, I tried it immediately. Plus, using ricotta saves the extra step of having to cook the potatoes. Ricotta makes a less finicky gnocchi, compared to the traditional potato gnocchi that can become tough if over-mixed. The creaminess of the ricotta gives you a little leeway when mixing your dough..
Just use a light hand when rolling and you will be rewarded with tender puffs of pasta dumplings. Another way I've substituted ricotta in a gnocchi recipe is to use canned pumpkin. You've got to try my pumpkin gnocchi recipe, too!
For this recipe, I boil them in water just until they float, and then finish them in the pan with butter and bleu cheese. However, these ricotta gnocchi are also delicious when pan-fried in olive oil. They brown and crisp up nicely, and are perfect with spicy marinara sauce.
You may also double the recipe and put half in the freezer for another meal. My only warning, though, is that frozen gnocchi do not pan-fry very well. If you cook with frozen gnocchi, it's best to boil them.
Ingredients for ricotta gnocchi:
- ricotta cheese: It's best to use full-fat ricotta cheese, not low-fat. To use up leftover ricotta, you can make my ricotta pound cake cupcakes with whipped ricotta frosting.
- eggs: Just one egg for our small-batch dinner for two recipe, but you can easily double this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese: Please, try to find actual fresh Parmesan cheese, and not the shelf-stable one. Authentic Parmesan Reggiano is obviously the best, but you can find much cheaper domestic Grana Padano. Let's just avoid cheese in cardboard tubes so that we have the most delicious results.
- garlic: One fresh clove of garlic, grated on a microplane so it's super finely minced. Here's the microplane I use and love.
- all-purpose flour
- blue cheese: You can buy a small 4 ounce block of blue cheese and crumble it yourself, of you can buy crumbled blue cheese in the package.
How to make ricotta gnocchi:
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, salt and garlic. Mix very well. Next, gently stir in the flour. Stir until just combined, don’t over-mix.
- Flour the counter, and scoop out one-quarter of the dough. Dust flour on top, and with flour-dusted hands, gently roll the dough into a 1” log. Cut the dough into gnocchi pieces and place on a floured plate. Repeat the process for the remaining dough. Always be gentle with the dough and use a light touch.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a large skillet over high heat. Stir constantly, and look for a deep brown color. Don’t be afraid to get them too dark. Remove the walnuts from the pan and wipe clean.
- When the water is rapidly boiling, lower half of the gnocchi into the water gently with a strainer or wire spider. Meanwhile, melt the butter on very low heat in the same large skillet the walnuts were in. When the gnocchi float to the surface, remove them from the water and place them in the skillet with the butter.
- Boil the remaining gnocchi and add them to the pan with the butter when they are done. Cook the gnocchi in the butter on low heat and stir them gently. When the butter begins to brown, turn the heat off and add the bleu cheese and toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.
More dinners for two you might like:
For the ricotta gnocchi:
- 4 ounces Ricotta Cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 clove Garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting and rolling
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Salted Butter
- 4 ounces Bleu Cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup Walnuts
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and have ready.
- First, make the ricotta gnocchi: in a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, salt and garlic. Mix very well before adding flour.
- Next, very gently stir in the flour. Stir until just combined, don’t over-mix, and be sure to be light with the dough.
- Now, flour the counter with excess flour, and scoop out one-quarter of the dough. Dust flour lightly on top, and with flour-dusted hands, gently roll the dough into a 1” log. Using a knife, cut the dough into gnocchi pieces and place on a floured plate. Repeat the process for the remaining dough for a total of about 50 gnocchi.
- Gently lower the gnocchi into the boiling water, and cook just until they float, about 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat until fragrant. Remove the walnuts from the pan and turn off the heat, but have the pan ready for receiving the gnocchi.
- When the gnocchi float, strain them from excess water, and place them in the pan. Add the butter and turn the heat to medium.
- Toast the gnocchi in the butter while stirring gently. When the butter begins to brown and the gnocchi appear to have a toasted surface (about 4-5 minutes), turn off the heat. Add the walnuts back to the pan, and stir in the blue cheese.
- Divide between two plates and serve.
ricotta cheese: It's best to use full-fat ricotta cheese, not low-fat.
Parmesan cheese: Please, try to find actual fresh Parmesan cheese, and not the shelf-stable one in a can. You will be rewarded with better flavor!
garlic: One fresh clove of garlic, grated on a microplane so it's super finely minced. Here's the microplane I use and love.
blue cheese: You can buy a small 4 ounce block of blue cheese and crumble it yourself, of you can buy crumbled blue cheese in the package.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 869Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 194mgSodium: 1589mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 36g