Pan Fried Gnudi AKA Ricotta Gnocchi. With roasted cherry tomatoes and pancetta
The first time I made gnocchi, traditional gnocchi with potatoes, it took me literally four hours.
Now that I’ve made it a few times, I’m slightly quicker. But still it’s not something I can casually whip up when I get home from work.
Until I discovered gnudi.
I’d heard about ricotta gnocchi a long time ago, but for some reason it didn’t appeal to me until I heard it named “Gnudi”. Something about the name “gnudi” was incredibly enticing and I knew I just had to try making it for myself.
I read online, in multiple places, that in Italian gnudi means “nude” and it is so called because it is like naked ravioli filling.
I’m not 100% sure if gnudi and ricotta gnocchi are the same thing or if they are slightly different somehow. If anyone has a clear cut answer to this question (i.e. What’s the difference between gnudi and ricotta gnocchi?) please feel free to enlighten me.
Anyway, midweek, I set about making gnudi slash ricotta gnocchi.
Every single recipe I came across was completely different. Some needed literally days to set, others you cooked straight away. Some used one egg, others used four. Some used a cup of flour, others used a quarter of a cup. Some rolled their gnudi in semolina flour. Some put spinach through the mixture. This went on and on and I started to panic that making gnudi wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be.
I was determined to try it anyways and I kind of created my own recipe which ended up working beautifully.
First thing’s first:
I started by turning the oven on to about 180 degrees and placing a punnet of cherry tomatoes on a tray to roast while I got started on the gnocchi. I drizzled olive oil and a pinch of sugar over the tomatoes to bring out the flavour.
Next I got started on the gnocchi:
I was cooking for six, so I used a whole kilo of fresh ricotta. (You can use less if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, and portion out the other ingredients accordingly).
I drained the ricotta a bit to get rid of excess moisture.
I mixed the ricotta in a bowl with about a cup of finely grated Parmesan, a splash of nutmeg, a pinch of salt and three eggs.
I mixed this (using a whisk) until it was combined and then I sifted in approximately a cup and a half of plain flour.
The mixture was incredibly sticky but I’d read repeatedly not to add too much flour or I’d end up with floury, dense gnocchi which is no good at all. So I left it sticky and chucked it in the fridge hoping it would come together while I got started on the sauce.
Then I put a big pot of water on the stove to boil while I worked on everything else.
Then I moved on to the roasted tomato and pancetta sauce:
To make the sauce I finely chopped one brown onion and a few cloves of garlic. I like garlic and I hear it’s good for warding off colds so I used three cloves, but you can use as much or as little as you like.
I chopped up approximately ten slices of pancetta into messy rustic squares and threw them into a large frying pan, pre-heated with olive oil. I left the pancetta on until it was nice and crispy, turning every now and then.
I removed it from the pan and then cooked the onion and the garlic. You could also add chilli in with the onion and the garlic.
I took these out again and set them aside. I know this sounds a bit of an odd way to make the sauce, but I wanted to pan fry the gnocchi and minimise washing up by reusing the frying pan.
Check on your cherry tomatoes – they should only take about 20 minutes. When the skins have blistered, take them out of the oven and set them aside.
Back to the gnocchi:
I took my gnocchi mixture back out the fridge.
It was still extremely sticky and I started to worry that it was going to end up a complete disaster.
Nevertheless I persevered and when I began rolling my gnocchi on a heavily floured breadboard it came together perfectly.
I rolled my gnocchi into tubes and sliced them into pieces. I didn’t do anything to fancy like scoring them with a fork because I found that when I sliced them with a bread knife (also floured) they became cute little pillow shapes. So I left them as they were.
I kept the pieces on a floured tray, so that they didn’t stick together.
When all the pieces were ready, I placed them in the boiling water.
When the pieces rise to the top, you know they are cooked.
So I took them out and placed them back in the frying pan with olive oil.
They’ll only need a minute or so to pan fry. You don’t want to overcook them.
Unfortunately, because there was so much gnocchi I had to do this in stages. I took them out and set them aside as each batch cooked.
Once all the gnocchi was cooked, I placed the pancetta, onion and garlic back in the pan along with the gnocchi.
I added a big glug of olive oil, a big bunch of baby spinach, a big bunch of fresh basil and my roasted cherry tomatoes.
I stirred it around until it was combined, warmed through and the baby spinach had wilted.
I placed extra basil on top and voila! My gnudi slash ricotta gnocchi with roasted cherry tomatoes and pancetta was done!
This dish received rave reviews and I have to say, I enjoyed it thoroughly myself.
The gnocchi was light and delicious and the roasted tomato pancetta sauce complemented it perfectly.
This is a great way to enjoy gnocchi when you don’t have enough time to do all the extra steps involving potatoes.
Would I make it again? For sure!