Hey! Look who's writing about food again!

Yeah, yeah, I KNOW, it's another recipe. But trust me, you want to hear about this one. Nay, you need to hear about this one. It's another recipe that originated with the old Italian relatives (as did my ample ass, for which I am ever so grateful*), and it is incredible. I mean, who doesn't love some gnocchi, right? Even better, this is ricotta gnocchi, so it is a thousand times lighter and fluffier than the potato version that is much more readily available. Best of all, my mom was in town for a visit this week, so she demonstrated the proper technique of kneadingkneadingkneading while I sat around taking pictures and resting my cowardly biceps.

(True story: I originally got the recipe from my crazy perfectionist grandmother, and it included the step "Knead dough for 20 minutes." I made the recipe exactly once because my arms ached for two days afterward, and this was when I was 25 and moderately in shape. I relayed this info to my mother, who was all, "Oy, Grandma told you that? Bitch, please. There is maybe 10 minutes of kneading. Maybe. This is so easy, here, watch me." Mom was right, of course.**)

Ricotta Gnocchi, Which I Believe Is Italian For "OH MY HELL, THAT IS AMAZING"
You will need:
Approx. 5 1/2 cups of flour
2 lbs. part skim ricotta cheese (at room temp.)
2 eggs (at room temp.)

1.)  Scoop 4 cups of flour onto the counter in a mound, creating a large well in the center.
 2.)  Scoop 2 lbs. of ricotta into the flour well. You want to be sure to scoop the ricotta from the container rather than just dumping the whole thing so that you can occasionally drain off some of the excess water.
3.)  Create another well in the center of the ricotta and add in two eggs.
4.)  Slowly begin incorporating all of the ingredients, first by gently whisking the eggs:
then mixing the ricotta in with the eggs:
 and finally incorporating the flour into the egg and cheese mixture:
5.)  Once the mixture becomes too thick and gooey for the fork to be effective, just get in there with your hands, smooshing everything together until it's well combined.

 6.)  Once the ingredients are combined and sort of doughy, begin kneading, by which I mean gather up the dough, push it through with your hands, fold and gather it up again, rotate it 1/4, rinse and repeat.*** You'll want the dough to become as non-sticky as possible, so keep the counter, the dough, and your hands VERY floury. You will need to add approximately another 1 1/2 cups of flour during the kneading process, which takes about 10-ish minutes, maybe less.

7.)  You're done when the dough is not too sticky anymore and finger indents spring back just a little. Et voila--DOUGH! (You may want to check that the pasta is the right consistency by quickly cooking your first few gnocchi and giving them a try. If they're too soft, just continue kneading in more flour. Trust me, that is so much better than finishing the whole shebang and realizing your dinner is a mushy mess.)
8.)  Now for the tedious part--making the little individual gnocchi. (Gnocchi...which is plural. Huh. Individual gnoccho? But many individuals is still plural, so gnocchi? Aghhh, shut it, Kate.) Either way, cut off a small chunk of dough (maybe 1/10 or 1/12 of the ball?) and cover the remaining dough with a mixing bowl to keep it from drying out as you work. Begin rolling the chunk of dough out in your hands and on the floured counter until it is a long, round strip approximately the width of your thumb:

 then cut the strip into little pillows about the size of your fingertip.
9.)  Then we roll! Literally. Over and over, until each little pillow has been rolled into gnocchi form. If you have a gnocchi board to give it the little ridges, great, but just rolling them on the counter is fine too. Don't try to make the lines with a fork--it's a YOOGE pain in the ass. The technique is hard to explain, other than to say it's just a quick flick of the wrist while pressing on the little dough pillow with the tip of your finger. Here's mom's demo:

(Oh yeah, make sure you flour the board really well, because they can stick. Not a huge deal if they do, though--just push them off and carry on.)
10.)  To cook them, just bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and toss in the gnocchi. They're done once they float to the surface, like so:
They cook really quickly and turn to mush shortly thereafter, so keep a close eye on them. Toss them in whatever sauce you like, and enjoy!

Mom and I made a quick test batch, which we tossed in a little browned butter and parmesan cheese. They looked like this:
and were so good that approximately 0.3 seconds later, the plate looked like this:

The recipe makes approximately a million gnocchi (no joke--we got a little over 5 1/2 lbs of gnocchi from this batch, and we know this because my equality-focused mother weighed the gnocchi as she was separating the batch into bags (2 lbs, 13 oz each!) for my sister and me, who I would like to think are less demanding of equality now that we're, you know, adults), but they freeze beautifully. As you're rolling the individual gnocchi, place them on cookie sheets that have been covered in wax paper and dusted with flour, making sure that the gnocchi are in a single layer and not too tightly spaced.
Pop the cookie sheets in the freezer for an hour or so, until the pasta is thoroughly frozen, then transfer them to freezer bags. This will keep them from sticking together in a huge clump in the freezer. Later, the frozen pasta can go straight to the boiling water.

I know this probably seems like a mountain of work, but it took my mom about an hour and a half from start to finish, and they are SO INCREDIBLY WORTH IT.

I'm going to shut up now, because this is crazy long already, but later this week?  I promise to share the most amazing recipe for bolognese sauce, which just happens to pair perfectly with these gnocchi. Perfectly, like, To. Die. For.

*Sarcasm font!
**I may have paraphrased just a touch there.
***You know I was speaking figuratively there, right? Everyone's aware that you do not actually rinse the dough, or anything else for that matter? Ok, cool.


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