Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sauteed Cherry Tomato Sauce

I DVR'd Sara Moulton's show last week, the show dealing with weeknight pasta dishes. This ricotta gnocchi gratin was one I just had to try. It can be done in stages, so work ahead is always good. Just assemble, bake and enjoy. Eddie and I each had a decent-sized serving, which was more than enough. This would easily serve six with a side of roasted vegetables, such as asparagus or broccoli. Looking forward to the leftovers tonight! Yeah, no cooking necessary.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sauteed Cherry Tomato Sauce
Makes 4 - 6 servings

Kosher salt
One 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 recipe Sautéed Cherry Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) or your favorite bottled sauce
2 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 cup)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Beat the ricotta cheese and eggs together with an electric mixer until well combined. Stir in the flour, half of the Pecorino cheese, the salt, pepper, and nutmeg until just combined. (I made the dough in the morning, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and chilled it until dinnertime. Also, I just mixed it up by hand and it came out great.)

Scoop up a rounded tablespoon of the gnocchi dough, then use a second tablespoon to scoop the mixture off the spoon and into the boiling water. Repeat to make as many gnocchi as will fit in the saucepan without crowding. Simmer for 7 minutes. When they are cooked through, transfer the gnocchi with a slotted spoon to a shallow baking dish. Repeat until all the dough has been cooked. (I used a small ice cream scoop, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each. After cooking, I scooped them out to a sheet tray until I was ready to assemble the dish and bake it off.)

Meanwhile, prepare the Sautéed Cherry Tomato Sauce. (I started the sauce in the morning and finished simmering before dinnertime.) Spoon the sauce over the gnocchi and top with Fontina and remaining Pecorino cheeses (here I gave it a quick drizzling of olive oil) and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. (Finished it off under the broiler for a nice browned top.)

Sautéed Cherry Tomato Sauce: Combine 1 large onion cut into 8 pieces and 6 garlic cloves in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade; pulse 2 to 3 times until coarsely chopped. Heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place one pint of cherry tomatoes in the food processor bowl and pulse 3 to 4 times, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and repeat twice with 2 more pints cherry tomatoes. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes to the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until they form a sauce, about 10 minutes. (10 minutes is not nearly long enough; I simmered at least 30 minutes to get right consistency.) Add kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste and serve over Ricotta Gnocchi. Top with 1 1/2 ounces Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup) and 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh basil and oregano, if desired. Makes about 4 3/4 cups.

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