Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

By • February 9, 2011 • 83 Comments

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Author Notes: I grew up going to my Italian grandmother's every Sunday for dinner. I have fond memories of handmade pasta drying on a rack, big pots of sauce simmering away on the stove and stinky hard Italian cheeses that I loved to snack on, even as a child. But my most favorite Sundays at Grandma's were the Sundays when she made her gnocchi. For many years she used potato, but then wised up to the ease and lightness of using ricotta instead. It took about 20 years before I finally pinned her down and made her write the recipe that had always been made by memory and feel. Isn't that how all Italian grandmother's cook? Since the best meals are the ones that are shared, I want to take it out of the old family box and contribute it to the food52 community. Buon Appetito! - cdilauracdilaura

Food52 Review: We're newly convinced, thanks to this recipe, that homemade gnocchi can be a weeknight dinner. And ricotta gnocchi like cdilaura's (a.k.a. our friend Christina) are especially easy to pull together, and won't weigh you down like their potato-based counterparts. We loved these nearly bare -- just sauteed in some brown butter -- so we could really taste the ricotta and speckles of nutmeg, but Christina's Grandma DiLaura's Tomato and Meat Sauce recipe (also on the site) is delicious too. To see a video of Christina making her gnocchi with us, go here:
- A&M

Serves 4

  • 1 pound fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 2 cups flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough
  1. Add egg to ricotta cheese and oil and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add grated parmesan cheese to mixture and sprinkle with nutmeg to taste.
  3. Add sifted flour a little at a time and continue to mix thoroughly until dough comes together.
  4. Dump onto generously floured surface and work with hands to bring together into a smooth ball. Add more flour as necessary until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands.
  5. Cut off slices of dough like cutting a loaf of bread and roll into ropes thumb size thick by spreading hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.
  6. Line one rope parallel to another and cut 2 at a time into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece off the back of a fork to make imprints that will help hold the sauce.
  7. Transfer gnocchi pieces to a lightly floured or non-stick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put in the freezer while making the rest of batch. If you plan to save any gnocchi for future use, allow them to freeze entirely on the baking sheet before storing in a ziplock bag to prevent sticking together.
  8. When ready to prepare, bring a large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.
  9. Add gnocchi to boiling water and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to create movement and prevent gnocchi from sticking to the bottom. As gnocchi rise to the top {a sign they are done cooking} scoop them out with a mesh strainer or a bamboo wire skimmer and immediately place in serving bowl shaking off excess water.
  10. Scoop some sauce on top of each layer of gnocchi as they are placed in the bowl to eliminate the need to stir them with sauce in the end and risk damaging or smashing the pasta. Generously grate parmesan over the top and serve.

Tags: family, family, family, gnocchi, Italian, pasta

Comments (83) Questions (3)


23 days ago rob weaver

sauteing in butter and sage leaves


25 days ago CheffieEmily

I love gnocchi. Sweet potato, ricotta. Love it all. I made them a dozen times in culinary school. I love blanching them then toasting them in a little butter until the butter is browned. It taste so sweet and nutty and creates a lovely crust


about 1 month ago Dominique

I cooked the gnocchis according to instructions, letting them come back up on the surface of the water, but that did not take very long and they felt like undercooked dough. Is that normal or would there be a reason for this ? I absolutely loooove your website by the way, it is fantastic !


3 months ago [email protected]

This is a recipe my mother used fifty (50) years ago. It's the best. The only she did different, is instead of using a fork she would gently roll each piece with her thumb and they would end up looking just a bit like a shell. I've had wonderful luck with this recipe.


3 months ago Cococi

I just made these gnocchi the other day and added a little more nutmeg and some cinnamon. They were so delicious and easy to make!


3 months ago karina italia

I don't know what I did wrong. Mine were flavourless and heavy. Going to have to try again.


3 months ago Katherine

Maybe try adding more nutmeg and some cinnamon like @Cococi did? I hope it works out well then next time you make it! =)


3 months ago karina italia

Thanks Katherine, I think I maybe got the measurements wrong (converting to grams). I'm definitely going to try again :)


4 months ago Dimply Dots

Loved this!!! I'm so happy to have found this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe. It will certainly be a part of mine now. I ended up frying the cooked gnocchi in brown butter so they became a tad crispy in spots like spaetzle then added some lemon zest and chopped chives. The flavor was so great, soft and perfectly pillowy. This was my first time making gnocchi and I'm not sure I'll ever go the potato route. Clearly fresh homemade ricotta is the way to go. I can't wait to make these again and try your grandmothers sauce next time too. Worth every ounce of effort, which honestly was not as much as I was anticipating.


6 months ago Patricia De Nardo Schmidt

Your childhood sounds like mine. Lots of good memories at Grandma's house and the smell of food cooking is one of them. We were at her house every Sunday too


8 months ago ECMotherwell

Made this last night, served it with Merrill's broccoli/sausage dish (subbed the gnocchi for the linguine.) Yummmmmmmmmmm.


8 months ago Beroberts

This was an amazing meal to make, thank you for posting! I paired it with an alfredo sauce with peas and ham. I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions of what kind of sauce to put it with. We froze some extra dough for an easy make dinner one night.


9 months ago pooh

Also, I'm making this for about 22 people (half of whom are hungry teenage boys), so I'm worried this won't be filling as the only entree. What other vegetarian entree do you suggest pairing the gnocchi with?


4 months ago Dimply Dots

You could do a tart or quiche. So easy and fast and everyone always loves them. The sausage and kale tart on here is great (obviously sub out the sausage) and I love bell peppers and onions in quiche.


9 months ago pooh

can you use part-skim ricotta?


9 months ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Provisions by Food52.

Yes you can!


9 months ago Sammi M

I made a double recipe for a dinner party and it got rave reviews. Everyone went back for seconds. I froze the gnocchi for about an hour before cooking and it turned out well. I even have some frozen for dinner next week.


9 months ago Rebecca Weger

My partner and I made this last night and enjoyed it very much. I'm gluten-free, so we substituted 280g superfine rice flour mix and it was great. We browned them just a bit with asparagus and prosciutto, added a bit of Parmesan and pepper. Delicious.


10 months ago gina graff

International moment here. I was quite delighted when my Warsaw-born husband made this dish for me and told me they were called "Lazy Pierogi" because the cheese is simply mixed into the dough instead of being painstakingly inserted into dough pockets. In Poland they are served mixed with butter-sauteed breadcrumbs (sauce polonaise)with sour cream on the side. Polish schoolchildren like them with sugar and maybe cinnamon on the side for dipping.


10 months ago Chipper1

I use a butter board to make gnocchi.Very pretty!


12 months ago Trena

I've made these twice and both times I've doubled the recipe and frozen them on a cookie sheet. My favorite way to enjoy them is pan fried in olive oil and butter with fresh herbs from the garden. Tonight it's basil! I also like to grate fresh parmigiano-reggiano just before serving.


12 months ago Lynn Sarnow Born

My Italian Grandmother always made the best Ricotta Gnocci (and sauce, and pizzelles and meatballs...). Sadly, my attempts at her recipe never seemed to turn out right. This recipe is the closest and best I've found to Grandma's! My 7 year old and my 18 year old both loved it. Thank you, thank you, Gratzie!!!!


12 months ago Pugtato

Made this on a weeknight with one of my friends and a 2 year old in the house. It was easy, fun and delicious! I love the lightness of the ricotta and will be making again. Will be reblogging on my blog as a part of my 52 week recipe challenge!


12 months ago sherrylynne mitchell

I am so dying to try this recipe. I can remember my Nona making pasta and it must have been this or something close. She had 8 children making it must have taken her somewhat longer than it will me.....who will be making it for 4 max. I can still remember trying to help with the 'forking' of the pasta. she laid them out on pans to air-dry a bit before cooking. I sssume this would be the equilivent of the freezer step. Oh I can hardly wait to see if this tastes anything like my memories.