Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus Pesto.
This bowl contains every ingredient ingredients for a happy Monday, wine on the side.
And what if I tell you that it can be done in one hour? Homemade pasta – in one hour – with not too much of a mess. And covered in garlicky, cheesy asparagus pesto. Are you feeling all the feels right now? I’m feeling every feel imaginable.
I’ve decided that ricotta gnocchi is by far my favorite gnocchi. Not only is it so much lighter than potato gnocchi, it took me barely any time at all to make. Serioulsy! I was blown away. It was made so quickly that I’d even do this on a weeknight with no issue.
And at this moment in my life, I want to make dinners that take approximately 45 seconds. So that says a lot.
Let’s talk about how you need to try it!
I’ve told you for YEARS about how Thursday night was pasta night in our house when I was growing up. And how I… hated pasta. I dreaded pasta night. It wasn’t only the tomato sauce (but that was probably the biggest reason) – I just didn’t care for pasta either. So my options were limited to:
1. tantruming. I did this bunch. I was such a joy.
2. whatever noodles my mom made, covered in a river of butter and tons of parmesan cheese. No really. I’m talking tons.
3. gnocchi. It was never homemade in our house, but I still enjoyed it and it was the one thing I’d actually have tomato sauce with.
With my strong feelings on Thursday night dinner as a kid, it also meant that I had a lovely disdain for Italian resataurants. I KNOW. Are you wondering how I’m even human right now? However, we did have a few Italian Ovens that were only open for a handful of years, and I loved that place. I became closely acquainted with the stromboli and calzone. And pizza, obviously.
But anyhoo, if we weren’t at an Italian Oven and we were at another place with Italian cuisine, gnocchi was my order choice. Simple and done.
It was until my early twenties when I first had ricotta gnocchi – or gnudi, as it’s more frequently called – and very much enjoyed it. And it wasn’t until four or five years ago, when I had April Bloomfield’s gnudi at The Spotted Pig that I was like UM YES PLEASE NOW FOREVER give me nothing else for the rest of my life yes yes yes.
Ugh. Like I can still TASTE the gnudi. (Along with the roquefort burger and the shoestring fries but whatever, that’s neither here nor there.) When I say it was like eating pillows, it was like eating pillows. In the best way ever. (Is there a best way? Say yes.)
Super light and fluffy. Covered in brown butter. Crave city.
Ricotta gnocchi is the answer to all my whiney pasta prayers. Potato gnocchi itends to be so… heavy. I’ve made gnocchi with pumpkin and squash as well, and while it’s more delicious that traditional potato, it still doesn’t match up to the version with ricotta.
Should we talk about the asparagus pesto? Maybe.
It’s asparagus! Made into pesto!
Think lots of garlic, cheese and olive oil. It’s heartier than a pesto made with herbs and it tastes exactly like spring. We have the teeeeeniest bit left in our fridge because I’ve been hoarding it like nobody’s business – it’s gone on toast with eggs, I ate it with pitas and hummus last Friday and I kind of marinated some chicken in it too.
Eddie loved it. Max loved it. It’s been added to the pesto list for summer. Can I grow asparagus somehow? I should probably shut up and start with mint, I know.
Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I topped this springtime hug-in-a-bowl off with the crunchiest of all the bacon. After a little spritz of lemon, a shaved parm shower and a glass of pinot gris on the side, the dinner game is majorly elevated.
Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus Pesto
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
asparagus pesto & pasta
- 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- shaved parmesan, for topping
- lemon wedges for spritzing
Place the ricotta on a triple layer of paper towels. Cover it with another triple layer and press down, releasing liquid from the cheese. Scoop the cheese into a bowl and weigh out exactly 8 ounces for the gnocchi. If there is any leftover, use it for another dish! (or spread it on bread. mmmm.)
In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, 3/4 cup flour, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper until just combined - using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, form a ball. Press it into a disk on a floured surface and cut it into four equal pieces. Take each piece and roll it into a log about 16 to 18 inches long. Cut 1-inch pieces with a sharp knife.
To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once it's simmering, add the gnocchi and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, until it floats for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon or sieve to drain. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
asparagus pesto & pasta
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the asparagus spears into thirds. Take a handful of asparagus and set it off to the side - we will toss the spears and pieces in the pasta. Add the remaining pieces to the boiling water and cook until slightly tender but still bright green, about 5 to 6 minutes. Strain the asparagus.
Add the asparagus, almonds, garlic, cheese and crushed red pepper to a food processor. Pulse until blender and the mixture begins to come together, the stream the olive oil in while the processor is running. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. (Note: this will make enough pesto that you will have some leftover - keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge and use it on everything! Toast, eggs, salads, sandwiches, chicken, shrimp, etc!)
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the bacon. Cook until completely crispy and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain excess grease. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the skillet. Add the asparagus pieces that you set aside and toss. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly tender.
To serve the pasta, add it to the skillet with the asparagus. Toss the hot gnocchi with the pesto and a touch of pasta water - I only add about 1/4 cup first until I get the consistency I like. Add to a bowl with the asparagus pieces and spritz with lemon - then sprinkle the bacon overtop. Top with extra shaved parm.
anything green is healthy in my book!