Tag Archives: ricotta

crispy ricotta gnocchi with pine nuts and spinach (ricotta-part trois!)


oh, you are gonna thank me for this one. pasta…that you can fry until crispy and brown? and add toasted pine nuts and cheese? and a drizzle of olive and some fresh baby spinach? oh my word.

the inspiration for this dish came from a blog i subscribe to called 101 cookbooks. in it, heidi swanson, the creator of this blog uses the golden gnocchi to add to a pasta salad, of sorts. given the fact that we are, well technically at least,  still in winter, i thought a warm application of this would be in order. you can use packaged gnocchi, if that’s all you can come up with, but buy or make fresh if you can.


crispy gnocchi with pine nuts and spinach

1 pound fresh gnocchi, cooked, drained and patted dry  (add to simmering water until rise to the surface, about 2 minutes)

1 TBSP olive oil (plus extra for drizzling-use the best you have)

1 TBSP unsalted butter


pine nuts (you can toast ahead of time for 7-10 minutes in a 375 degree oven or throw them in towards the end of sauteeing the gnocchi like i do)

a few handfuls fresh baby spinach

freshly grated parmigiana reggiano


heat olive oil and butter in  a large skillet over medium-high heat. add gnocchi and toss to coat. allow to saute in a single layer, undisturbed until golden brown. flip gnocchi over with a spatula to brown on the other side. add pine nuts to pan when you have a 1-2 minutes left before gnocchi are crispy on second side. remove from pan and salt to tase. add spinach and toss, allowing spinach to wilt a bit with the heat of the gnocchi. grate parmigiana and drizzle good quality olive oil over top.



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ricotta, part deux (makin’ gnocchi!)


remember all that ricotta i made several weeks back? did you wonder what i was going to do with all of that? well, I did. so who better to get some much needed lessons for making gnocchi from than mario batali. i love him. he is serious about his italian food but not snobby about it. and you gotta love the orange crocs.


i already had everything i needed to make them. so i wondered that if i had anything to lose, i didn’t know what it was. maybe time…but as usual i would rather be nowhere else than playing in the kitchen.


mix everything together by hand and form a ball of dough, adding flour as necessary to keep from being too sticky.


i tried to form into the little gnocchi shapes using the ‘2 spoon’ method–i was not successful. i ended up rolling a large handful at a time into ropes, then cutting into about 1″ pieces. sorry i didn’t get any shots of that part of the process. there is a great tutorial on this method which i used from elise.



then off to the boiling water they go. try not to overcrowd the pot. after about 2 minutes they should float to the top. that’s when you pull them out and add some more.


you can toss these with your favorite marinara sauce (use the one on elise’s page) and freshly grated parmigiana reggiano OR you can wait and i’ll post a recipe next time that will blow your mind. 



homemade ricotta gnocchi

1  1/2 lbs fresh whole milk ricotta, drained if you are not making this from scratch

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (i like king arthur)

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 TBSP freshly chopped parsley or spinach (optional)


if using store bought ricotta, place the ricotta in a fine sieve over a bowl. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. in a medium-sized bowl, stir the drained ricotta, 1 cup of the flour, the eggs, parsley (if using), salt, pepper and nutmeg together gently but thoroughly until a soft dough forms, adding a little more of the flour if the dough is sticky to the touch. forming the gnocchi: dip 2 tablespoons in cool water. using 1 spoon, scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and use the other spoon to form it into a smooth, pointed oval. alternatively, you can use elise’s method i used above (HIGHLY recommended!). place the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with a lightly-floured kitchen towel.

bring 4-6 quarts of water to a gentle boil. add the gnocchi a few at a time, trying not to over crowd. as soon as they float to the top, they are ready to fish out with a slotted spoon or strainer. this should take about 2 minutes from the time they are put in. you can add more as soon as you take a few out.

these freeze well (before cooking, of course). lay in a single layer on a sheet pan in the freezer. then when they are fully frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer safe bag. do not defrost, put straight into boiling water from the freezer.


Filed under main dish, pasta, Uncategorized

tri ricotti

of course i just made that up. i don’t think there exists a plural for ricotta besides, well, ricotta. but this weekend in in my house there did exist ricotta prepared 3 different ways. i guess you would call it a horizontal making and tasting of cheese. i think ricotta is not considered REAL cheese, but made of a byproduct of making cheese-whey. but i’d like to think that i made cheese, since i’ve never attempted that before, so i’m callin’ it a cheese.

ricotta #1

the first version was made with milk and buttermilk brought to temperature (175 degrees to be exact), captured with a deep-fry or candy thermometer. here it is first put in the pan, then as the curd came to be just at the 175 degree mark as promised.



i then ladled the curds into a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh colander and allowed it to drain for 5 minutes before i checked on it. i was glad i did because the instructions said to drain it for 15 minutes or longer if you like a drier ricotta. well these curds were arid after those first few minutes. i still had some whey hanging out in the pan so added a little more back in. it was a very fine curd and i was pleased as this was my introduction into cheesemaking and it was actually edible! i put some honey on it and went to town.



ricotta #2

the second version required milk and cream in a pan and when that comes to rolling boil (yes a rolling boil, which seems so counter intuitive when you think of all the puddings and milk based sauces that you have spent hours of your life trying not to scorch or burn!), at that precise moment it is removed from the heat and some lemon juice is added.library-2481library-2485


it was just like magic. these beautiful fluffy cloud-like curds appeared out of nowhere and presented themselves to me. i ladled them out into the same cheesecloth and colander set-up as before. i tend to go for the larger curd cottage cheese, too so these were definitely my kind of curds!



the third and final installment in the ricotta chronicles turned out to be my favorite. i don’t know if i was getting good at this or if the method just lent itself to such ease and convenience that it really spoke to me. not that any of the ingredients to make ricotta are esoteric in any way, but i kinda like the idea that i can always make a fresh batch with only milk and regular ol’ distilled white vinegar from the pantry. all that was required was that i heat up some milk to about 180-185 degrees, add the proper amount of vinegar and stir for about a minute. this is what happened next:


i dutifully covered it with a clean dishcloth and let it sit, off the heat and untouched, for about 2 hours.library-2507

i then carefully poured the mixture over the same cheesecloth set up as before and these were left before me:library-2517


light and airy, yet moist and fat curds that danced on the tongue and tickled my mouth and I made them! now all i have to do is figure out how to use them; let’s see, gnocchi, lasagna, cheesecake!

here are the recipes in the order from above. really, no one ricotta is better than the others. it’s only a matter of what taste and consistency you prefer, not to mention ease of preparation. but they are all pretty easy to make if you ask me. remember too that you get out of it what you put into it, so use premium, fresh, and preferably organic dairy products as the taste of them will intensify and really come through in the ricotta.

ricotta #1

adapted from 101 cookbooks

1 gallon  whole milk
1 quart buttermilk

combine both milks into a large nonreactive saucepan over medium high heat, preferably a thick-bottomed pan if you have one. you will need to stir occasionally, scraping the pan bottom, to avoid scorching. you will notice curds starting to rise to the surface.

line a fine sieve colander with a large piece of cheesecloth that has been folded numerous times – place the lined colander over a large bowl or sink.

when the mixture reaches about 175F degrees, you will see the curds and whey separate. the curds are the solids-the whey is the liquid. ladle the curds into the prepared sieve. allow them to drain for 15 minutes minimum. store in an airtight container for up to 5 days–it is best used as soon as possible.

makes about 4 cups.

ricotta #2

adapted from paula lambert

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt, optional*

prepare a sanitizing solution of 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of household bleach.*

rinse a large stainless steel or enameled stockpot or soup pot with the sanitizing solution and pour the milk and cream into the pot. place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring as necessary with a sanitized spoon so the milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice. continue stirring slowly until the milk curdles and white curds float to the top. remove from the heat and cover. wait for 5 minutes while the curds solidify slightly and become firmer.

rinse a colander and a large piece of muslin or several layers of cheesecloth in the sanitizing solution. wring out the cloth to release the excess water. line the colander with the cloth and set the colander in the sink or over a large bowl.

using a sanitized perforated spoon, gently ladle the curds into the colander. Let the whey drain for 30 minutes, or until the ricotta is still moist but fairly dry.

after about 15 minutes, lift the edges of the cloth toward the center of the colander to loosen the cheese from the cloth and facilitate draining. if the ricotta is still too liquid and runny in texture after 30 minutes, gather the edges of the cloth together using 1 hand, wrap a piece of kitchen string around the gathered cloth to form a bag, and tie it closed. hang the bag containing the cheese from the faucet or the handle of a kitchen cabinet door and allow the excess whey to drip from the bag into the sink or a bowl.

if adding salt, transfer the ricotta to a sanitized bowl and stir in the salt. place the ricotta in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. use within 5 days.

makes 3 1/4 cups

*note: i did not sterilize the cheesecloth, pan or spoon in this preparation. i did not add salt so i would have the option of using the ricotta for a sweet or savory application.








ricotta #3

1 gallon whole milk

1/3 cup plus 1 teasoop distilled white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt*

rinse inside of a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan with cold water. it is said that this helps prevent milk from scorching. place milk in pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer on the side of the pan. the milk will start to bubble and steam will rise from the pan. you want it to reach 180-185 degrees, near scalding temperature, just before it comes to a boil. check the temperature with your thermometer.

when it reaches the correct temperature, take the pot off the burner, add the vinegar and stir gently for only one minute. add salt, if using. you will notice curds forming immediately-cover with a dry clean dish towel and allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for a couple of hours (can be left all day while you are at work!). 

when the ricotta has rested for 2 hours or more, take a a few layers of cheesecloth and place them inside a colander. gently pour the whole of the contents into the prepared colander. place the colander with ricotta inside of a larger pan or sink so it can drain freely. Let it drain for two hours or so depending on how creamy or dry you want your cheese to be. refrigerate in an airtight container. it will keep for up to 5 days. ricotta does not freeze well.



makes 4 cups

* i did not add salt so i would have the option of using the ricotta for a sweet or savory application.


Filed under cheese