This ricotta gnocchi is the lighter cousin of traditional potato gnocchi. They cook up as perfect, airy dumplings and when paired with the sage brown butter sauce and a few spirals of butternut squash they become the perfect date night meal!
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When you think of gnocchi, most people think of little potato dumplings but ricotta gnocchi is a traditional Florentine pasta, the lighter cousin of that traditional potato gnocchi. This gnocchi has a soft, mild flavor and makes a great base for just about any sauce. This gnocchi is really easy to make. You simply open up some ricotta, add eggs, some flour and a bit of parmesan and you’re just about ready to go!
I first heard about ricotta gnocchi when taking a class from a local cooking school here in Chicago called The Chopping Block. I loved how easy they were to make and they are a bit less finicky than traditional potato gnocchi, making them easy to make a home. That said, they do still occasionally fall apart when they hit the boiling water so it’s best to test one before cooking the entire batch to ensure you have the right consistency for the dough.
To do that, take a small spoonful of the batter and drop it into a pot of boiling water. It should hold together. It’s ok if they soften and feather a little around the edges. If they fall apart add another tablespoon of flour to the dough and try it again. Once you’ve made them a few times you’ll recognize the correct consistency! Once you find that consistency try to use that same type of ricotta every time you make them. That’s what impacts the consistency! The desired consistency is a sticky dough that almost resembles a very thick batter.
Tips for Making Browned Butter
Brown butter is amazing! The complex nutty flavor is a great addition to some many dishes. To make brown butter you simply cook unsalted butter for medium heat until the butter begins to foam and brown. Stir it frequently do it doesn’t burn. You’re looking for a deep, rich brown color. Cook for 4-5 minutes total then transfer to a bowl to stop the browning process. Be sure to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
You can freeze brown butter for use later. Be sure to let it cool first and then stir well to ensure everything is evenly distributed. If you want more tips on how to freeze brown butter check out my post about creative uses for ice cube trays. There are so many options for using brown butter – add it to mashed potatoes, throw it on some grilled or steamed veggies or stir into some warm pasta. It’s worth making a little extra when you are doing it!
The only drawback of this dish is that you really need to serve it immediately. This gnocchi doesn’t keep particularly well so only cook what you can eat and freeze the rest. Trust me – you’ll have no trouble polishing off large quantities of them in a single sitting!
Make Ahead Tip
You can refrigerate the gnocchi for use within 24 hours or freeze them if you want to save them for later. To freeze them lay them out in a single layer on parchment paper, then top with an additional layer of parchment paper and add another layer. I recommend freezing for no longer than a month or they start to lose their flavor.
things you may want for this recipe
Spiralizer – It took me a while to get on board with the spiralizer trend but once you try it you’ll discover that it not only makes creative looking dishes but is a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet.
Easy Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
For the gnocchi:
- ¾ cup part-skim ricotta
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1.5 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
For the browned butter:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sage leaves, cut into thin strips
- For the butternut squash:
- 1 cup butternut squash spirals
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the ricotta, egg and egg yolk to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.
- Fold the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper into the mixture until combined. Don't overmix. The dough should be thick.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four equal parts. Shape each part into a log shape and then using floured hands roll until the log is about 1 inch in diameter. Cut into bite-sized pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough until all the gnocchi have been formed.
- Refrigerate gnocchi for at least 15 minutes or up to twelve hours. If you will be using them the next day or later see notes for instructions on how to best freeze gnocchi.
- To make the brown butter heat the butter in a small, light-colored saucepan (it's easier to see the butter brown in a light colored pan). Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the butter turns a deep brown color. Stir frequently and be careful not to burn the butter. Once the butter is deep brown add the salt and sage and cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Transfer butter to a small bowl to keep it from burning.
- Bring a large pot of water to a low boil over medium-high heat. While the water comes to a boil add the olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Once the water is boiling add the gnocchi to the pot and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the gnocchi is firm. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
- To assemble the dish, divide the gnocchi between two serving bowls. Add the butternut squash and spoon the brown butter over the dish. Garnish with additional sage if desired. Serve immediately.