Posted by: acooksca | 04/04/2009

Home Made Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Peas

Making ricotta cheese is easy and gratifying… you can tell everyone you truly made these ricotta gnocchi from ricotta-gnocchi-1ascratch. Home made ricotta is more delicate, sweet flavored and has a drier curd than store bought.

This recipe is easy, but requires starting ahead of time. If you are making your own ricotta (see the following recipe) start in the morning or the day before you want to serve the gnocchi. Store bought ricotta requires draining for at least four hours or overnight. The ricotta must be quite dry for the gnocchi to hold together.

Have on hand enough fine mesh cheese cloth to line a sieve with several inches  overhang.

16 ounces home made ricotta cheese or 16 ounces purchased whole-milk ricotta
        See following recipe to make your own ricotta.
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tbl. olive oil
l/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup roughly chopped wild mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms, fresh shitakes,    
        brown Italian field mushrooms
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
12 fresh sage leaves, torn in halves (or dried)

Set a large strainer lined with double-layer damp cheesecloth over a large bowl. Place store bought ricotta in prepared strainer; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate four hours or overnight. (If using fresh ricotta, skip this step, it will be dry enough.)

Mix ricotta,  egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in bowl. Stir in the flour and mix well with your hands into a stiff dough, about 1 minute. Cover and chill mixture at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. For each gnocchi, shape 11/2 teaspoon ricotta mixture into a football shape. Transfer gnocchi to large plate (can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.)

Melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly brown (8 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate and set aside. Using  the same skillet, melt the remaining butter with the peas, shallot and sage leaves. Sauté until butter browns, peas are tender, and shallot is cooked, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Working in 2 batches, add gnocchi and cook until tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to skillet with peas and toss to coat. When all gnocchi have been added to the skillet, add mushrooms and toss gently over medium heat to warm. Serve in warmed bowls with Parmesan.

Makes 4 main course servings.

Home Made Ricotta Cheese

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 large  (bottled juice has preservatives and will not work correctly)
Extra equipment: enough fine mesh cheese cloth to line a sieve with several inches
     overhang

Slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Stir often to prevent scorching. Add the lemon juice and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into cloth lined sieve placed over a bowl. Let the cheese drain for one hour. Discard the liquid. Cool before using in the above recipe.

Ricotta will be firm and dry. To use, break it into small curds with forks. Ricotta can be kept several days, covered in the refrigerator.

Yields about 16 ounces

Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.

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