lemon-ricotta gnocchi in a sweet mint-apple sauce

So, being a grad student is pretty fun, though when you have two hours of intensive Arabic instruction every morning things get a little crazy. Lately I’ve taken to cooking huge batches of yummy things and stashing them in the freezer so on the craziest of days I don’t have to worry about cooking things from scratch. Fortunately this means that although I didn’t take any photos the first time around, there is plenty more where this came from that I will photograph soon and post. Till then you’ll just have to use your imagination a bit.

itty bitty gnocchetti with fresh parm & mint

This recipe is very from-scratch, and it’s worth it. It takes a little time but making pasta is not as hard as you think! (Well, at least this kind of pasta.) The gnocchi recipe is based on that of Susan McKenna Grant, who runs a bed & breakfast type place in the heart of Chianti that I was able to visit last spring. The sauce is made up from whatever I had lying around, but it works great this time of year when apples are just starting to get really really good…

Lemon-Ricotta Gnocchi in a Mint-Apple Sauce

Serves 4-6

For the ricotta:

4 cups milk
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
2 T lemon juice
Several leaves of fresh mint, chopped

Add the mint and thyme to the milk and heat it until it’s just about to boil. Remove from heat, mix in the lemon juice, and let cool. It should start to separate into curds & whey. Once it reaches room temperature, strain it in a colander lined with a cheesecloth (or a thin dish towel) and set aside.

For the gnocchi:

The ricotta (see above)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon curd (I know! I know. Crazy. But try it. You can get lemon curd at most grocery stores – it should be with the jams and jellies)

Mix the ingredients together (the dough should be a bit sticky – if it’s too dry, add a little water, and if it’s super sticky, add a bit of flour). Refrigerate for an hour or so.

To make the gnocchi, make sure your work surface has a light dusting of flour. Grab a bit of dough and roll it into a log about a half inch in diameter; then use a knife to cut the dough into half- to three-quarter-inch little gnocchetti. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the gnocchi in the freezer. If you’re making a batch to save for later, you can just throw them all into a bag once they’ve frozen solid and leave them there. Otherwise just leave them chilling until you’re ready to cook with them (the frozen gnocchi actually behave better in the water than room temperature or refrigerated gnocchi would).

For the sauce:

You’ll need
1 apple sliced very thinly
1 T butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
A bunch of chopped mint
1 tomato, diced
1-2 onions, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 tsp flour
1 tsp sugar

Saute the onions in the butter and a bit of olive oil on medium-low heat until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sugar, tomatoes, and apples, along with a bit more olive oil, and let cook for about 10 minutes.

Add in the rest of the olive oil, milk, walnuts, mint, and flour. Cook for about 15 minutes or until it’s reduced to a thin sauce (but not too watery), adjusting salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling, salted water. They should only need a few minutes, and as soon as they’re done they’ll start to float. Serve with sauce and a little grated parmesan.

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