Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52

Some of my first memories of food involve going to my Grandma’s house on Sundays for a meal with all the cousins. Sometimes it was a roast, sometimes she was cooking the handmade pasta that she dried on a rack in the basement, but on my favorite Sundays, Grandma was making her Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi.

She originally made this recipe with potatoes, which make for a heavier, denser gnocchi. In fact, we used to call them belly bombs {although I think that had more to do with the fact that she gave us very generous second and third helpings}. Eventually Grandma realized it was so much easier to make gnocchi with fresh ricotta cheese and these potato pillows and our bellies were lighter for it.

I credit my love and respect for hand-prepared food to these memories. I believe strongly that a good meal is a great meal when shared with friends and family — it’s why I started my blog and supper club in the first place. So when Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs asked me to film a recipe in the food52 kitchen, I knew Grandma’s Ricotta Gnocchi was the recipe to share. I hope you enjoy the simplicity of this traditional meal. Go on, channel your inner Italian Grandmother, and give it a try — I’d love to hear your stories, so leave me a comment if you do. Buon Appetito!

Grandma's Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura’s Ricotta Gnocchi

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
grated fresh nutmeg to taste
2 cups of flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough

  1. Add egg to ricotta cheese and oil and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add grated parmesan cheese to mixture and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
  3. Add sifted flour a little at a time and continue to mix thoroughly.
  4. Dump onto generously floured surface and work with hands to bring together into a smooth ball. Keep adding flour until dough no longer sticks to your hands as you gently knead it.
  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.
  7. Roll each gnocchi off the back of a fork to make imprints to help hold the sauce.
  8. Put gnocchi pieces on a lightly floured or non-stick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put tray in the freezer while making the rest of batch.
  9. If not cooking immediately, let gnocchi freeze completely on baking sheet before transferring to ziplock bags or containers and keep in freezer until ready to make.
  10. When ready to prepare, bring large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.
  11. Add gnocchi and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. 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.
  12. Continuously 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.

TIP: Gnocchi can be made ahead and completely frozen until dropped into water for cooking. Great for pulling a meal out mid-week without having to worry about defrosting. I always double this recipe when I make it and save some for later!

Grandma DiLaura’s Tomato and Meat Sauce

12-14 servings | 2-3 hours

1 28oz can tomato sauce
3 12oz cans of tomato paste
8 cups of water {fill each can used}
1 lb. of browned ground beef
2 teaspoons dried basil
salt & pepper taste
1 medium size yellow onion, peeled
1 teaspoon of baking soda

  1. In a large pot add the tomato sauce and paste. Fill each can used with water and add to the sauce with basil and salt & pepper and stir.
  2. Brown the ground beef, drain off the fat and set aside.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil on medium-high heat and then turn down to a slow simmer {caution: if you let the sauce boil too long it will burn}. Cook 2-3 hours until thick, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 1 hour, add browned ground beef and whole peeled onion.
  5. In last hour of cooking add 1 teaspoon baking soda to eliminate some acidity and stir.
  6. When ready to serve remove whole onion and cut in half or quarters to serve.

TIP: Sauce freezes well in small containers to pull out for mid-week dinner.

My Mom, Aunt Marilyn and Grandma DiLaura Making Gnocchi {Love the 70s!)

Read More About 8.ate@eight’s Supper Club:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!


Filed under 8.ate@eight, @home {recipes to love}

15 responses to “Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52

  1. Kerri

    Fantastic! Loved the recipe and the tutorial. You’re a natural, Christina. Send this to the Cooking Channel asap because you’re FAR superior to their current lineup. Xoxo

  2. Emily

    You’re a natural, I love it!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52 | 8.ate@eight -- Topsy.com

  4. Cm

    You made this look soo easy and like so much fun that I am sure that people that thought they could never pull this off will be heading to the store for the ingredients. Great job and thanks for the memories.

  5. Cathy

    Yum!!! That was so amazing. We are such a proud Auntie and Uncle.
    We enjoyed it so much. Now we are going out for Italian Fare for Valentines Day : ) Wish you were here to cook for us. xoxoxox

  6. Brian

    I’ve bought my ingr and will be trying this out this weekend! Channeling my inner test kitchen…will let you know if the low fat ricotta screws it up!!!

    • Cm

      I don’t think the low fat ricotta will be a problem. If it seems a little more watery just drain some of the liquid out using cheese cloth…the same way you would strain out yogurt.

  7. Alison

    these looked heavenly!! great job my friend – xoxoxo

  8. Nicole

    Mmmmmmm… Yummy! Nice video! Great idea with the ricotta! Gonna try these out with whole wheat flour… Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Maryann Gesell

    Dear Tina,
    Thank you so much for sharing your Grandmothers gnocchi receipe. I made them for my grandchildren and they loved them. I am the oldest of five and my Dad made the potato version for us. We all loved them but saddly none of us have the recipe or were taught how to make them. So watching the video your Mom shared was an inspiration. Thank you. PS- Your Grandma Violet was my neighbor in our first home.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed Grandma’s recipe. It takes me back to sitting in her kitchen every time I eat them and it felt like the perfect recipe of hers to share! Thanks for leaving a comment and letting me know how much you appreciated them.

  10. peter palomobit

    Haven’t made your recipe yet, but I will. I used to make gnocchi from scratch years ago, but it was a lot of work. Your grandma’s recipe looks easier and I look forward to it. Best of luck on your new site. Loved the interview on Fox too-you looked great and so well spoken. You’re a natural for TV kid!

  11. Pingback: Easy Ricotta Gnocchi | Nourishing Vancouver

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