10 minutes for pillowy-soft, toothy-delicious, completely idiot-proof (read: me-proof) gnocchi? Yes, please.
Ricotta gnocchi are not exactly like potato gnocchi. Really excellent potato potato gnocchi have a kind of barely perceptible yielding bounce to them, while these are more velvety-soft. And they’re creamier, of course. In fact, they are delicious, with their lightness, their subtly textured interior matrix of curd and egg, their cushiony smoothness. They’re fantastic dressed in simple, light sauce. And they are so dead easy you could make them every night, if eating gnocchi every night seems like a good idea to you. Damn.
Note: You want very fresh, sweet, small-curd ricotta for these dumplings. Big, grainy ricotta won’t work.
For two people, start with about 8 ounces of ricotta. Drain it if there is any free liquid. Combine in a large bowl with an egg yolk, a healthy pinch of salt, and an ounce of finely grated Parm.
Set aside about 3/4 cup of all purpose flour. Begin to work it into the liquid ingredients, little by little, mixing lightly and only until you see no dry streaks before adding a little more. You’re looking for a shaggy mass that is just dry enough to hold together—it will never be dry enough to be rolled without sticking, so you want to just get it to a point where it can hold a shape. Add as little flour as you can get away with, hopefully 1/2 cup or so.
Dust your hands with flour and roll 1/2” to 1” balls of the dough into football-like shapes. Set them on a tray dusted with flour.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add your gnocchi all at once; stir briefly to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. The gnocchi will come up and float as they cook; they may need an extra few seconds of cooking after they float to be thoroughly cooked (check one to be sure—it should taste faintly of cheese with no raw flour taste). Remove them immediately with a slotted spoon, give them a quick bath in sauce, and serve.
Variations: Add chopped spinach or herbs to the dough. Replace the Parm with Pecorino. Pan-fry the gnocchi, or layer them with sauce and cheese in a baked dish. Don’t work in any flour at all into the dough, but form the cheese and egg into masses with two spoons and just roll them in flour, Zuni Cafe-style. Yum!