Ricotta gnudi with creamy, garlicky vodka sauce with a nice layer of melted mozzarella. These dumpling-like gnocchi are made with ricotta instead of potatoes. They're super easy and fast! If this dish doesn't bring the family running to the table, not sure what will! —Danielle Oron
In a sauce pot with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, but be careful not to burn it.
Add the tomato paste. Caramelize a bit by cooking it for about 45 seconds.
Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper flakes, bay leaf and 2 tablespoons of water.
Once the sauce begins to simmer, turn the heat to low and cover with lid only half-way. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.
After the sauce has simmered and thickened, heat a separate large pan over medium-high heat and add the vodka. Be careful not to flame it!
Reduce the vodka by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce into the pan. (Watch out for splatter!) Simmer for 2 minutes
Add the cream and simmer for another minute. Turn the heat off.
For the baked gnudi
Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
Add the flour in 2 additions mixing in between. Don't over mix! The dough will be sticky.
With floured hands, form the gnudi into 1 1/2 tablespoon dumplings. Softly roll the dough into a ball and then flatten. Rest the gnudi on a floured surface. Repeat until all dumplings are formed. It will make about 34 to 36 gnudi.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
Using a spoon, create a whirlpool in the boiling water and add in the gnudi. Mix the water for a minute or so. This will help the gnudi not to stick to the bottom of the pot.
Boil the gnudi for about 6 minutes. They will float! Keep them in for an additional 2 minutes after they've floated.
Drain the gnudi and return them to the hot pot.
In a baking dish, place a tiny bit of the vodka sauce on the bottom. Place some of the gnudi along the bottom in one layer. Top with some sauce. Place another layer of gnudi, then sauce. Continue until you've used up all the gnudi and then top with the remainder of the sauce.
Lay the sliced fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese over top.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is all melty! If you want to char the cheese a bit more, broil on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve warm.