These homemade ricotta gnocchi are so light and fluffy, and much quicker and easier to make than potato gnocchi!
Ricotta gnocchi are light, fluffy little cheesy dumplings that can be whipped up in 45 minutes or so. They're much quicker to make than regular potato gnocchi, and in my opinion, they're even tastier. Here's how you make them!
What is gnocchi?
Usually, the base of gnocchi is mashed potato (sounds weird; makes a great dumpling), but these ricotta dumplings have no mashed potato at all - they use (you guessed it) ricotta cheese instead. It doesn't sound like ricotta and potato should ever serve the same purpose, but somehow it works!
One other fun fact about gnocchi: You know those words that stop making any sense when you look at them for too long? Gnocchi is one of those words. Nyocky. Nuuyooockiiii. It can't be right.
Is ricotta gnocchi better than potato gnocchi?
I've made homemade gnocchi a few times in the past, but the potato version can be a bit of a faff. Before you can even start on the gnocchi itself, you have to peel and boil the potatoes, and then mash everything to within an inch of its life (nobody likes lumpy gnocchi). I did discover that frozen mashed potato makes great homemade gnocchi and cuts out a lot of the prep time - but ricotta gnocchi is even quicker still!
Ricotta gnocchi are also lighter and fluffier than potato gnocchi, as you might expect. I think I like them even more, if that were possible.
Is ricotta gnocchi low-carb?
It might sound like swapping potatoes for ricotta cheese is an effort to make low-carb gnocchi... but that's not really the case. These ricotta gnocchi contain about 36g of carbohydrates per serving, so although they're not as carb-heavy as potato gnocchi, they're far from low-carb.
Luckily, I'm very much in favour of carbs in all their beautiful forms.
How to make homemade ricotta gnocchi
Step 1: Mix up the gnocchi dough
Here's where ricotta gnocchi are so much quicker to make than potato gnocchi:
Mix together ricotta, parmesan, eggs, and flour.
That's it - no peeling, no boiling, no mashing, no faffing with potatoes at all, just straight to mixing. In fact, you don't even need to do much mixing - just enough to bring it all together into a fluffy dough.
Step 2: Shape the gnocchi
Next, split the dough into a few chunks. I find 8 pieces is pretty easy, as you can quarter the ball of dough, and then cut each piece in half one more time. It doesn't matter if they're not perfectly even.
Using a little more flour to stop it sticking to your worktop, roll each piece into a snake. Try to make them a similar thickness, but it doesn't matter if some of your snakes end up longer than others (you'll just get slightly more dumplings from that snake!).
Then just cut them into chunks! The size doesn't matter - it just depends on how big you want your dumplings to be. And don't worry too much if they're not quite even - I definitely ended up with a few piddling little ones from the ends of the logs!
Step 3: Boil the gnocchi
Add the dumplings to a pan of boiling water. You can cook them in a couple of batches if needed, so you don't overcrowd the pan.
Gnocchi (both potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi) cook really, really quickly - maybe a minute or two in boiling water. You'll know they're cooked when the dumplings begin to float - just fish them out of the pan with a big slotted spoon.
At this point, your gnocchi are edible. In fact, most of the times I've ordered gnocchi at a restaurant, they've just been boiled. But personally, I find that boiled gnocchi can be pretty dense and claggy - much like you would expect boiled dough to taste, really. The cheesy flavour is nice, but the texture leaves a lot to be desired. Which brings me to...
Step 4: Sauté the gnocchi
The difference in texture between gnocchi that have just been boiled, and gnocchi that have been boiled and then sautéed, is pretty incredible. They're immediately transformed into light and fluffy dumplings, and the crispy bits round the edge are an amazing bonus. I never, ever skip this step.
I've actually written a whole blog post all about how to fry gnocchi, so check that out if you'd like more detailed instructions. It applies to all sorts of gnocchi - shop-bought gnocchi, homemade potato gnocchi, and even this incredible ricotta gnocchi.
Just shallow fry the gnocchi in a bit of oil (or even better, melted butter), until they're golden brown and crispy.
Step 5: Add your choice of sauce / extra bits
Just like pasta, you can serve your ricotta gnocchi with any kind of sauce or veggies that you like. A tomato and mascarpone sauce would be amazing!
How to serve gnocchi
Since gnocchi dumplings themselves are quite filling, I usually avoid adding a sauce that's too heavy or rich. I'm not a fan of gnocchi in thick sauces, for example - they just end up too heavy and stodgy.
In my opinion, a thin sauce tends to be better. I love something light and buttery - even just some garlic butter and fresh herbs works wonderfully.
This time, I went for garlic mushrooms and a dollop of basil pesto - so simple, but so effective.
And that's all there is to it - about 45 minutes start to finish, including adding your sauce. As much as I love potato gnocchi, I think ricotta gnocchi is the way to go when you're making it at home - so much less faff!
Can you freeze ricotta gnocchi?
Yes! Ricotta gnocchi freeze really nicely. Just lay the uncooked dumplings in a single layer on a baking tray, and freeze. Once they've frozen, you can transfer them into a ziplock bag. This stops them from freezing together into one big lump.
When you're ready to cook the dumplings, put them into the pan of water straight from frozen. Since they're frozen, they'll just take an extra minute or two to cook. Then, you can continue as normal.
Since homemade gnocchi do take a little time to make, it's a great idea to make an extra big batch, and freeze some of it for later.
Have you ever made homemade ricotta gnocchi? If you have any other top tips to add, let me know in the comments below!
Homemade ricotta gnocchi
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- 250 g (~ 1 cup) ricotta cheese
- 80 g (~ ¾ cup) finely grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
- 2 eggs
- 120 g (~ ¾ cup) plain flour (plus more for dusting)
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon oil for frying
- Add the ricotta cheese, grated parmesan and eggs to a mixing bowl, and mix well. Add the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix again until just combined into a light dough. If the dough seems too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured worktop. Using a little more flour, bring the dough into a ball, and flatten it into a disc. To divide the mixture into 8 even pieces, cut the disc into quarters, then cut each quarter in half again (no need to be too accurate) - see the blog post for a photo.
- Roll each piece of dough into a thin snake (using more flour if needed to stop it sticking), then cut into chunks. The exact size doesn't matter - mine were around 2cm long.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and drop in the dumplings. Cook until the dumplings float to the surface of the water (1-2 minutes), then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
- Heat some butter and oil in a large frying pan (you need plenty of fat to stop the gnocchi from sticking), and add the dumplings. Don't overcrowd the pan - it's better to cook them in batches if you need to. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown and crispy underneath, then carefully turn the dumplings over to cook the other side (ricotta gnocchi are a bit more delicate than potato gnocchi, so be gentle!).
- When the ricotta gnocchi are crispy, add your choice of sauce, and serve immediately. I served mine with garlic sautéed mushrooms and basil pesto.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.