My second attempt at making my own ricotta went well, but I scalded it a little (Little Bit waking up at a crucial moment was not part of the plan!) The scalding actually gave the ricotta an interesting caramelised flavour though. The plan had been to make ricotta gnocchi with it, so I went ahead with that but decided to use the caramelised flavour and have a slightly sweeter, more robust sauce to stand up to the ricotta. I made a pumpkin sauce with a little red wine and balsamic, caramelising the onions first. Using my own home made ricotta for this also had the advantage of allowing me to drain it in its little basket for a couple of days so that it was nice and firm to start making the gnocchi. I must say, it came out nicely!
For the gnocchi:
1 c ricotta
1 c grated aged cheese (eg parmesan)
1 - 1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal, and extra for sprinkling
For the sauce:
3 onions, sliced fine
1/2 head of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sage, crushed
1/2 sweet potato, grated
2 c roasted pumpkin (I pulled mine from the freezer stash of pumpkin I put aside when it was in season)
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 - 1 c red cooking wine
2 c water
salt to taste
1) Place flour and cornmeal in a bowl and form a well. Crack eggs into well and add ricotta. Mix to form a dough, adding a little extra flour if it is too wet. Mix in the cheese and pepper.
2) Cut the dough into quarters and then roll these into long snakes. Cut the snakes obliquely every 1 cm or so to form the little pillowy gnocchi, then toss these in a little cornmeal to coat them (this absorbs excess moisture from the outside and gives them a little bite). Leave to rest while you make the sauce.
3) Heat oil in a pan. Sauté onions, sage and garlic over medium-low heat to sweat them. Add the sweet potato and pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Add the balsamic and wine and bring to a simmer. Add the pumpkin and break it up. At this point, the sauce should be quite thick, but coming together nicely in terms of the flavours.
4) Add the water and salt to taste and bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the gnocchi are tender but firm, not mushy. Serve, with a little more grated cheese over the top, optionally.
I loved this dish! I wasn't sure until I started exactly what I was going to do with it, and then had my doubts mid-way in, but it was tasty, with nicely layered flavours without being heavy. It had some creaminess, and some tang, and some sweetness, and some umami. Overall a well balanced dish, in my opinion.