Ricotta, Herb & Lemon Filled Gnocchi In Sage Butter

Here comes the recipe I promised in my last dinner table post. I said I’d bought ricotta filled gnocchi at our market before and had always meant to make them myself. That worked really well apart from how my gnocchi ended up looking. Of course the ones from the market are perfectly shaped round pieces whereas mine were a little larger, about the size of a golf ball with almost as much indentations. However, there was a reason for that. On the plus side, you wouldn’t be accused of serving shop-bought gnocchi as they clearly look homemade.

Ricotta Gnocchi 01

Getting the filling into the ball-shaped gnocchi wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.  That was partly due to the soft-ish consistency of the gnocchi dough, but everything turned out alright in the end. I knew I wanted to mix some herbs into the ricotta that wouldn’t compete with the sage butter for taste. If you happen to bite into a piece of sage leaf its taste will be dominant, but taking a bite of just the gnocchi you will taste both the herbs – I used oregano and basil – as well as the lemon zest.

To get the filling into the gnocchi I thought of piping them in with a small nozzle but then decided against it because I feared the herb bits would get stuck in the nozzle. So I formed little golf balls from the dough and after doing some trial ones found the best way to fill them was to slightly flatten each piece, then softly press a thumb in the middle of the flattened piece, drop some filling in it (I wanted to get a good amount in to have a 2/3 gnocchi and 1/3 filling ratio) and then fold it in from all sides, trying to contain as much of the filling as possible within, and finally roll it between my hands again to get it back into golf ball shape. There will be some filling coming out in some places, but once you dump them into the cooking water it’ll be alright, it won’t run.

Ricotta Gnocchi 02

Because we had several courses and the gnocchi were quite large, I served three pieces per person, which turned out to be more than enough. I was completely happy with the result of this experiment, and I was also pleased that everyone was able to taste the lemon in the filling. This is something well worth making again, maybe experimenting with different fillings. I’m thinking chilli, bacon, mozzarella…

For my Italian dinner, I was able to do a lot of prepping beforehand, both the night before and in the morning. I prepared the gnocchi in the morning and left them in the refrigerator until they were ready to cook. I even left part of the dough in the fridge until the next day to fill and cook fresh for this post.

Ricotta Gnocchi 04

Ricotta, Herb & Lemon Filled Gnocchi In Sage Butter

  • Servings: approx. 30 pieces
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1 kg potatoes
300 g flour [either ’00’ type or very fine flour]
1 egg
2 tsp salt
extra salt for cooking water

150 g ricotta
zest of 1 large lemon
approx. 6 medium-sized basil leaves
approx. 1 tbsp oregano leaves
freshly ground salt
freshly ground black pepper

butter
sage leaves

Ricotta Gnocchi 03

Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes and cook in boiling salted water. Drain well, then mash finely. Let cool while you make the filling.

Mix together ricotta, lemon zest and roughly chopped or torn herbs. Add 2 turns of freshly ground salt and pepper and mix well.

On a well floured work surface arrange the potatoes in a ring, then place flour, salt and egg in the middle. Put some flour on your hands and work everything together until it’s a homogenous mass without too many lumps. [Make sure the potatoes are cooled almost completely as otherwise the egg will cook when added!]

Form dough into a long sausage, cut off even-sized pieces and form each into a golf ball-sized round. Flatten each piece as you go, make a dent in the middle with your thumb, add about ½ a tsp of filling, then fold the sides back together and roll into a ball shape again. Give each piece a light roll in the flour and set on a lightly floured surface while proceeding with the rest of the dough.

Cook the gnocchi in a pot of lightly salted water, preferably in two or three batches. They will rise to the surface fairly quickly but need to stay in the water a little longer due to their size. [My first batch was in the water for almost 8 minutes.] Lift each batch out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Once all the gnocchi are cooked, heat a frying pan with a very generous amount of butter [you want to serve them sitting in a little butter], add the gnocchi, then after a minute add the sage leaves. [My sage leaves were extraordinarily large so I just tore most of them up. If you have smaller ones just put them in whole.]

Serve straight away, making sure each portion is served in a little butter and with some sage leaves.

Ricotta Gnocchi 05

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