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Recipe: Herby Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Cream Sauce

Herby Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Cream Sauce
Photo: Maria Zizka

The Italian dumplings known as gnocchi can be made from potatoes, semolina, breadcrumbs, or ricotta. Of these, ricotta gnocchi are perhaps the simplest to make at home. All it takes is mixing together an egg, some grated cheese, fresh ricotta, and just enough flour to hold the dough together. I like to add way too many herbs, in any combination. The herb ratios listed below are meant to be a guideline, but please do substitute in any herbs that you like or have on hand.

The goal with ricotta gnocchi is always lightness. I've found that the culprit of dense gnocchi tends to be either too much flour or too much mixing. To avoid this, drain your ricotta until the cheese is quite dry and use a light hand when making the dough.

Herby Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Cream Sauce

Serves 4 as a first course

1 large egg
½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano
10 ounces whole-milk ricotta, drained
4 sprigs thyme
1 small sprig rosemary
4 mint leaves
3 sprigs oregano
1/3 cup parsley leaves, plus more for sprinkling
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
6 sage leaves
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add the grated cheese, ricotta, and 2 teaspoons salt. Pick the herb leaves from their stems, finely chop the leaves, and add them to the bowl. Stir well. Sprinkle in the flour and stir just until a soft dough comes together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cutting board. Divide it into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a rope with a ¾-inch diameter. Cut each rope into 1-inch-long segments and place on a floured plate. (Keep the plate, covered, in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook the gnocchi).

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil, and add the garlic, sage, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Pour in the cream and cook it until it reduces in volume by half.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook them until they float to the surface. Lift them out, drop them into the sage-cream sauce, and stir gently to coat. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and grind some black pepper over the top. Serve promptly.