Sometimes, after a long day of work, I just want to come home, kick my shoes off, and trade in my business casual for an apron. Strange, I know, but what can I say? This Bite-Sized Blonde loves to cook. The more complicated the meal, the better I feel. Last night I made Ricotta Gnocchi with Rock Shrimp in a Tomato Basil sauce. If it sounds time-consuming, that might be because it is. But, it’s fun as hell. And you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
Gnocchi are little dumplings. They can be made with potato or cheese. Ricotta gnocchi are especially delicious because they are light and airy. The best part of these little dumplings, other than the fact that they are mighty tasty, is that you roll them by hand. Imagine play-doh, minus the play, plus the yummy. As you roll the gnocchi out, you pinch the dough, and then cut, to make little tiny pillows. Totally ironic for a meal that won’t put you to sleep.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Rock Shrimp in a Tomato Basil Sauce (Serves 4)
1 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 Fresh Basil leaves, chiffonade*
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
½ lb. Rock Shrimp
8 ounces Ricotta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup AP flour
Start your sauce first. Add the olive oil to a medium pot over medium heat. Then, add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes. You can pulse as little or as long as you would like, until the tomatoes are at the consistency you prefer. I personally like a thick sauce, so I pulse 3 times quickly.** Add the tomatoes with the juices to the garlic. Add a touch of salt, fresh ground black pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Add half of the basil to the sauce as well. Cover and cook over medium heat for at least 30 minutes, but up to 2 hours.
While the sauce is cooking, start making your gnocchi. First, set a pot of water to boil. Then, combine the ricotta, eggs, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of fresh ground pepper. When the mixture is evenly combined, start adding the flour ¼ cup at a time, until it becomes a soft dough. If the mixture is sticky, keep adding flour. You may end up using more than 1 cup of flour total. Divide the dough into pieces, and roll into ½ inch thick logs on a floured surface. Cut into 1 inch long pieces.
Before you begin cooking the gnocchi, drop the shrimp into the tomato sauce. Cook until they are opaque, approximately 2-3 minutes. While the shrimp are cooking, start cooking the gnocchi. Drop the pieces into the pot of boiling water. And cook until they float. This will take 1-2 minutes. Once they float, scoop them out of the water and add them to the sauce. Stir to incorporate and then serve! Don’t forget to add the remaining basil for a hint of freshness!
* Basil is very gentle, so to prevent it from bruising, chiffonade the beautiful green leaves. Chiffonade means to cut into thin, long strips. To chiffonade the basil, stack the leaves and then roll them tightly. Then, cut across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife to produce long ribbons.
** Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor. Add the whole tomatoes, including the juice, to the pot. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a fork.