Gnocchi with Grana Padano, Lemon & Herbs
This recipe serves 2 to 4 and was created in partnership with Grana Padano PDO.
For the gnocchi
350 grams (1½ cups) very firm or drained whole milk ricotta (see notes)
100 grams (about 1 tightly packed or 2-3 loosely packed cups) finely grated Grana Padano
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
3 grams (½ teaspoon) kosher salt
Zest of 1 regular or Meyer lemon
3 grams (2 tablespoons) finely chopped tender herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, chives, basil, and/ or mint, leaves only (see notes)
A dash of nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
100 grams (1 scant cup) '00' or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
For the sauce & finishing
75 grams (⅓ cup) unsalted butter
2 whole cloves (optional)
2 strips of lemon zest, cut into thin ribbons
A few fresh sage leaves
A few fresh basil and mint leaves
Grana Padano Riserva shavings
More fresh herbs and freshly cracked black pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
A couple of notes:
It’s important to use very firm, whole milk ricotta (fresh from the deli counter is ideal). If it's a bit watery, line a plate or tray with paper towels. Spread the ricotta out a bit and top with more paper towels to absorb the excess liquid.
Blanching tender herbs that are prone to bruising (like basil and mint) before chopping will lock in their beautiful color. Just drop the leaves in boiling water for 15 seconds until vibrant and wilted, then transfer them immediately to an ice bath or run under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible and pat dry. Then chop very finely and incorporate into the dough.
Make the dough
Add the ricotta, Grana Padano, whole egg, egg yolk, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. It’ll be very wet and sticky at this point!
Stir in the lemon zest, finely chopped herbs, and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg. (Don’t hesitate to add more lemon zest or herbs if the mixture is looking sparse.)
Lastly, gently fold in the flour until the mixture thickens into a paste-like consistency. Mix only until all the flour has disappeared, not longer, to keep the gnocchi as light as possible.
Note: the gnocchi mixture can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for a couple of hours at this point if needed.
Shape the gnocchi
Transfer the cheese mixture to a lightly floured (ideally wooden) work surface. Dust the top with a bit more flour and form into a disk. Cut the disk in half, then into quarters, and finally into eight wedges.
Dust each wedge in a little more flour, then gently roll it back and forth until it becomes a smooth log. Then start to (gently!) roll the log outwards until it’s about ¾ inch, or 3 cm, thick.
Cut into pillows of desired size and transfer the pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted in a bit of flour. Repeat with the remaining wedges.
Note: To store the gnocchi for future use, boil them in a large pot of water until they bob to the surface. Then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a tray lined with a clean dish towel and allow them to air dry for a few minutes. Line the boiled gnocchi on another tray or plate and freeze them uncovered until mostly solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to a freezer bag or air-tight container and return to the freezer—when ready to cook, boil them once more straight from frozen. They’ll float when they’re done.
Finish the dish
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Melt the butter in a saucier or large sauté pan over medium heat, and stir frequently until frothy and just beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Make sure to keep the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn.)
Add the cloves (if using), lemon zest, and sage to the butter and continue stirring for about 20 seconds. Follow with the tender herbs and stir for another few seconds. Remove from heat.
Once water is boiling, salt it generously and carefully drop in the gnocchi. Return the butter sauce to medium-low heat. When the gnocchi bob to the surface, transfer them with a slotted spoon directly to the butter and herbs and toss gently to coat.
Divide the gnocchi among bowls, being careful to avoid any whole spices. Top with more butter and fresh herbs, along with large shavings of Grana Padano Riserva and freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!