Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Basil

cuisine Italian
season Year Round
difficulty Moderate
serves 6

Ingredients

28 ounce tin crushed San Marzano tomatoes 1 stick unsalted butter 1 teaspoon sugar Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 onion, halved 15 ounce whole milk ricotta 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan Reggiano 3/4 to 1 cup flour 4 ounces mild goat cheese 1 cup packed basil leaves, torn into pieces Parmesan Reggiano

Directions

  1. Put the tomatoes, butter, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a 2.75 quart pot. Place the halved onion on top and bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Lower the temperature and cook for 45 minutes. 
  2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large wide mouthed pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
  3. Combine the ricotta, eggs and Parmesan in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup flour and add more flour as necessary until the mixture forms a very sticky dough. Test the dough's consistency by dropping 1/2 tablespoon of dough into the boiling water to make sure it holds its shape when it floats to the surface. Stir a bit more flour into the dough if it does not (it should still be sticky). Repeat until the dough holds its shape.
  4. Transfer the gnocchi dough to a plastic pastry bag. Cut the tip of the bag so that it is 1/2" wide.
  5. Tie kitchen string from one side of the pot of boiling water to the other, securing the string on each of the pot's handles. Begin squeezing the gnocchi out of the pastry bag until it is 3/4" long. Use the string to cut the gnocchi from the bag. Add about 12 gnocchi before resting.
  6. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot. Transfer gnocchi to a paper towel to drain excess water and then place them in a gratin dish. Continue until all of the gnocchi dough has been boiled. 
  7. Remove the onion from the tomato sauce and discard. Stir in the goat cheese. When the goat cheese is incorporated, add all but a few of the torn basil leaves and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and finish with the reserved basil leaves and some freshly shaved Parmesan. Serve immediately. 

Kitchen Notes

San Marzano tomatoes. grown at the base of Mount Vesuvius in rich volcanic soil, sport a sweeter flavor and lower acidity than other canned tomatoes. Any creamy, goat cheese works well. This recipe is easily doubled and reheats well. Extra sauce (and the gnochhi) may be refrigerated for 3 days and used as the base for a pizza crust, sandwich spread, or dipping sauce for crudité.