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Baked Basil Gnudi in Fresh Tomato Sauce - Avoiding deviation

Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce


Just a quick note before we plunge into today's indulgence... :) I am looking forward to reviewing a fresh pasta maker from CSN stores, where you can find anything from kitchen equipment to even modern office furniture!! Stay tuned for more real pasta recipes in sometime. Now on with the regular scheduled programming...

Gnocchi - a soft, pillow of potato goodness encased in flour. That which can melt your heart by it's sheer delicacy. That which is really tricky to make and very intimidating to attempt. That I have many times ordered at different restaurants and mostly been disappointed.... That which is pasta and, hence, out of reach for this month's menu..

Gnudi - Supposed ugly sister of above. That which is made luscious with much ricotta and just a little flour. That is much easier to make and most often comes out great. That which I can make at home with success... That which is not pasta (really!) and hence very approachable at the moment..


Ricotta Gnocchi


My fascination with Gnudi began with a Top Chef episode where the contestants served the said with scallops and it not only looked pretty but seemed rather easy to make. Although somewhat related to the pasta being called "naked ravioli", the amount of flour that goes into making it is rather insignificant compared to pasta. So, it fits my constrained carb diet nicely, satisfying my pasta cravings without guilt!

Besides, these soft balls, sometimes, also go by the name Ricotta Gnocchi. I can see where the idea comes from. Instead of potato, ricotta is mixed with flour and then rolled or cut into cylinders. I actually put my mixture into a piping bag, snipped off the end and cut the gnudi directly into the boiling pot, as I had seen on TV. I have to frankly that this whole fun aspect made this even more appealing! :)

For a fresh twist, and because I don't like just the plain, I added chopped fresh basil to the gnudi dough. I think ricotta and basil make a classic combination and you just cannot got wrong with it! The gnudi gets perfumed and adds to the tomato sauce that I served it with.


Ricotta gnocchi plated


I have seen recipes where the cooked gnudi is sauteed and browned a bit in butter before being tossed in the sauce. I suspect that would just make them even better but I in the spirit of keeping it healthy, I just tossed them as is in my fresh tomato sauce and baked for sometime to infuse the flavors.


Baked Basil Gnudi with Fresh Tomato Sauce

For the Gnudi:
(adapted from
here)

4oz fresh ricotta, drained
2 oz grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
2 T finely chopped basil
zest of 1 lemon
50 - 60 g flour (eyeball based on consistency of dough)
pinch of salt

1 cup fresh tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Combine all the ingredients except the basil into a creamy mixture. You can pulse it in the processor to make it smoother. Fold in the basil. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. When ready, snip of the end at about 1/2 inch width. Bring a wide pot of salted water (with a bit of oil) to boil and reduce to simmer. Squeeze out the gnudi mixture and snip off 1 inch cylinders directly into the water. Continue adding gnudi but make sure you do not crowd them.

Cook for about 3-4 minutes until they float to the top. Drain, transfer to an oven proof dish and place in oven until ready to bake. Cook all the gnudi, repeating the same process above. When done, ladle the tomato sauce over the gnudi, sprinkle the parmesan over and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve immediately with more basil and cheese on top. I drizzled a touch of truffle oil before serving. You can also drizzle some good quality fruity olive oil.


Plate of gnocchi and salad
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