The holiday break has given me a bit of time to cook for my family – something I don’t often have time to do! I love to cook, especially when I am not in a rush to get a meal on the table. That’s why I love the Red Apron Dinners. I don’t have to worry about shopping, prepping and cooking. I get to just re-warm and enjoy a Nourishing Meal made from scratch.
But when I do have time to cook, I go all out, and this past week we made pasta – from scratch. We find this to be a fun, family activity, and afternoon spent making pasta can provide simple meals for other occasions if you make enough to enjoy now, and freeze for later. I received Evan Funk’s American Sfoglino as a Christmas Present and it’s a beautiful book which I would highly recommend. I like how he lays out the recipes, with the pasta recipes at the front, and the sauce recipes in chapters.
Our old Atlas 150 Pasta machine I picked up at CA Paradis years ago still does a great job, but we are also practicing hand rolling and hand shaping pasta, which is a bit more of a challenge, and in some cases requires some tools that not everyone would have in their kitchen.
The recipe I want to share with you this week is for the Ricotta Gnocchi – a dish that I enjoyed often when visiting Italy this past summer. For the Bolognese I am sharing a link to one of Evan’s own recipes, but I will warn you – it’s fantastic and will require a lot of time and equipment including a meat grinder! You can use my recipe, which is quite simple, but not nearly as spectacular.
Lately I have been using fresh milled local flours from Almanac Grains – available at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market. Their 00 Durham, mixed with a small amount of Semolina, seems to be the perfect pasta flour.
400 grams of ricotta (I suggest letting it sit in a strain for at least an hour to drain off any excess water)
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of salt
5 grates of fresh nutmeg
1 1/4 00 flour (you will probably need more)
semolina flour for dusting
Pulse the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt & nutmeg in a food processor or whisk until smooth. Pour the flour onto a clean work surface and make a whole in the middle. Using a bench scraper, combine the flour and wet ingredients, folding and cutting until incorporated. At this point you may need to add more flour. You want to fold and knead the flour for a few minutes until combined, soft and not too sticky. Form into a ball and dust the surface with a good amount of semolina flour, place the dough on the dusted surface, and cover for an hour to rest.
Flatten out the dough into a square about 1/2 inch thick and dust (generously) with more semolina. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 1/2 inch strips. Then cut into 1/2 inch squares. Toss the little squares in a bowl with more semolina until fully quoted and carefully remove them to a parchment lined baking sheet. When you are finished, I suggest you put them into the freezer to firm up until you are ready to eat.
These can be frozen and bagged for later use.
Boil the gnocchi in salted water for about 2 1/2 minutes – testing one to make sure it’s cooked through. They will float to the surface when cooked, but frozen gnocchi might take another minute to fully cook through. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and put them directly into your heated sauce in a saucepan on medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, then serve immediately with fresh parmesan.