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Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

by:
February  9, 2011
16 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
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?

It’s a fairly easy process. First, mix egg, ricotta cheese, and oil together, then add the grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle with nutmeg to taste. Once you sift and mix the flour in, form a ball and cut off slices of dough like cutting a loaf of bread. Roll into thumb-sized-thick ropes by spreading out your hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.

To cut the gnocchi, line your ropes parallel to one another and cut two 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.

Freezing is not necessary if you are cooking right away, but it does help prevent them from sticking together when you add to the water. All you really need is about 10-15 minutes to give them a chance to firm up on the outside before dropping in the pot. If you aren't going to make them right away, it's important to let them freeze on the tray first so that they don't stick together when you store in a bag or container for future use, since they are so soft and delicate.

As soon as you're ready to cook, they should go straight from the freezer to the boiling pot (no defrosting) and will cook in essentially the same amount of time. Nice thing to have on hand for a midweek meal!

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! —cdilaura

Test Kitchen Notes

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. –A&M

—The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 2 cups flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Austin Burges
    Austin Burges
  • Chris Van Houten
    Chris Van Houten
  • Stephen Selbst
    Stephen Selbst
  • Victoria Anderson
    Victoria Anderson
  • Mike Sidman
    Mike Sidman
Some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, mine was wooden. With an Italian heritage on one side and a Lebanese heritage on the other, good food was never hard to find. I grew up with Sunday dinners at Grandma’s, big pots of sauce simmering away on the stove all day and hand cut pasta drying on the rack in the basement. The perfume of lemon, garlic, garden grown herbs and other fresh ingredients always scented our family kitchens. So it is no surprise that my love for fresh, hand-prepared food is something I now love to share with new and old friends. Because of that, I put on my apron, sharpened my knives and started a blog and NYC supper club called [email protected] to continue spreading the good food love.

110 Reviews

Rob April 13, 2021
I have been making this for a few years now. My kids request them once every few months and is a family favorite.
 
Austin B. April 8, 2021
So if you freeze these (which you absolutely should) they'll start bobbing towards the surface at about 3 minutes. They will not be done. By about 5-6 minutes, they cease bobbing, and will be static at the top of the water. That is when they're done.
 
Noviegirl October 15, 2020
Make your own ricotta using the recipe on smitten kitchen. I adapt it by using 4 cups of whole milk instead of 3, and it's key to use butter muslin instead of cheesecloth. The weave of cheesecloth is too open -- you lose a lot of cheese.
 
PaulaMarie S. June 14, 2020
Light and Airy, super easy to make. Since it's Sunday, made with a boar ragu (and left out the nutmeg). Froze half, will make with brown butter and sage next time (and add a sprinkle of nutmeg to the sauce). Unbelievably delicious!
 
PaulaMarie S. June 17, 2020
Yes! Made the remaining gnocchi, right out of the freezer, with a brown butter sage sauce with rabbit sausage. Magnificent!
 
Chris V. April 28, 2020
Add me to the chorus of folks cheering on this easy and absolutely wonderful recipe! A bit of browned butter, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan, with a side of green peas... oh my!
 
S C. March 29, 2020
Question: just saw this recipe and would like to make it. It calls for fresh ricotta — is it ok to use a store bought container of ricotta from a regular grocery store or do I need to find a specialty store that sells it fresh made?
 
Marzparty March 29, 2020
Hello,

We live in the sticks so no fresh ricotta here. I use the best I can find it makes wonderful gnocchi! I’ve made this recipe six times.
 
Lynn S. March 29, 2020
Store bought should work great!
 
nancy E. July 9, 2020
It is simpler than you think to make your own. Heat milk to 200, add salt and vinigar , wait 10 minutes and strain. Voila
 
Stephen S. March 9, 2019
Easy and delicious. Much lighter than potato gnocchi.
 
Marzparty February 11, 2019
Amazing
 
Victoria A. September 25, 2018
This recipe is so easy and delicious! Potato gnocchi tends to be too doughy and dense for my taste, but these are light and airy. I make a huge batch and then freeze them. They cook exactly the same frozen. I normally fry them in a small pan with browned butter, sage, and parmigiano.
 
Mike S. July 31, 2018
I don't often comment on recipes, but this one made me so happy that I had to say it in public. I expected full failure when I gave this a try, but not only was it easy, the outcome was delightful. These gnocchi are so light and tasty. Mine were ugly as sin (I haven't mastered the fork rolling), but it didn't matter. I coated them with pesto and felt like I was eating a truly special meal.

Small note: I only ended up using 1.5 cups of flour in the dough, and used most of the remaining flour to keep my surface floured and to re-coat the gnocchi after I'd cut them, and I thought this worked perfectly.

Thank you so much for sharing!
 
Stephanie B. July 11, 2018
Mine are turning out soft, mostly pillowy, but still a little chewy (I made them with some whole wheat flour too, so that might add some extra density), but still kind of doughy on the inside when they float to the top. I'm boiling mine for longer - anyone else have this problem? Ok texture but long cooking time?
 
m October 24, 2017
has anyone done this with GF flour? thanks!
 
Madison B. August 21, 2018
I made them with Bob's red mill all purposes GF flour and it turned out just fine! Maybe a little chewier than they would be otherwise, but still delicious.
 
healthierkitchen March 31, 2017
there used to be a video of this recipe - does anyone know if it still exists?
 
Rhonda35 June 16, 2017
Here it is: https://food52.com/blog/1686-grandma-dilaura-s-ricotta-gnocchi
 
Mondo October 9, 2016
Hey, I'm looking forward to making this recipe this evening and was just wondering if you could be a bit more specific about how much nutmeg you use. I also had a question about the brown butter-- Do you toss the cooked gnocchi in the pan with the butter or just combine once finished?
Thanks a bunch!
 
Mondo October 9, 2016
So I made it, and though it tastes delicious the gnocchi is a bit mealy on the inside. Does that sound like a dough problem or a cook-time problem?
 
lilroseglow July 27, 2015
yum yum yum. These were awesome. Every gnocchi I've made before were heavy, dense, and chewy. These were like soft pillows oh so good!
 
The P. March 29, 2015
My father rolled a double batch of these yesterday and as we had no fresh sage we had to forgo a brown butter sage sauce. I made a very light tomato-basil sauce and these gnocchi were outstanding. Pops should have made a triple batch!
 
Chris V. November 20, 2014
I would just like to add to the chorus of thank yous and accolades! This recipe is wonderful. It is a crowd pleaser for everyone from foodies to kids and grandparents, and the steps are simple and unintimidating even for new cooks who might otherwise shy away from homemade pasta.
 
Bren May 28, 2014
Hello! Thanks for this lovely recipe. A question: I have "tipo 00" flour that I use to make pizza dough. Would this work well for gnocchi? Or is all purpose better for this recipe?
 
Allison B. May 10, 2014
i ended up only using 1 1/3 c. of flour, as i could tell by consistency that the gnocchi dough was ready. i also used homemade ricotta, so that might affect the consistency (the type of ricotta). but we were super happy with the results!
 
Julie B. May 2, 2014
How much flour would you say you used to make the dough smooth and not stick? Also, how long did it take to make it this way? I feel like I used way too much flour so my gnocchi were pretty dense. I also cut them to long so they were a bit big.