Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus Pesto

It's a very rainy day here in Ohio, but we're coming off of a week or two of summer-like weather which has been the perfect introduction into spring. Asparagus is one of the quintessential spring vegetables and seems to make its way into most spring recipes. For this recipe, asparagus is used in two different ways and although this was our first foray into making ricotta gnocchi, overall I think everything came together really nicely. 

Recipe from How Sweet Eats.*

Ricotta Gnocchi
-12 ounces ricotta cheese
-1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper

Asparagus Pesto + Serving
-1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
-1/4 cup  toasted sliced almonds
-1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
-3 garlic cloves
-pinch of crushed red pepper
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-shaved parmesan, for topping

* The original preparation involves squeezing excess moisture from the ricotta and weighing out a perfect eight ounce portion. Dave declared this to be messy and a waste of time, so it didn't happen for our recipes. All turned out fine. 

To Prepare the Ricotta Gnocchi: 

In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta that you've weighed out, 3/4 cup flour, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper until just combined. Add the remaining flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough has come together. Once the dough is ready, form a ball of gnocchi dough, then press it into a disk on a floured surface. Cut the disk into four equal pieces and then take each piece and roll it into a log about 16 to 18 inches long. Use a sharp knife to cut the rolls of dough into 1-inch pieces.

To Prepare the Asparagus and Pesto:

Cut the asparagus spears into thirds and bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until still bright green, but now tender. Remove some of the pieces and set aside to toss with the gnocchi later.

Add the remaining asparagus, almonds, garlic, cheese and crushed red pepper to a food processor. Pulse the food processor until the mixture begins to come together, then stream in the 1/3 cup of olive oil in while the processor is running. Once you have used all of the olive oil and the pesto has reached the desired consistency, taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

Cooking the Gnocchi:

To cook the gnocchi, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add the gnocchi -- cook about 2 to 3 minutes, until it floats for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Once all of the gnocchi are ready, drain the water reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.


In sauce pot that you used to cook the gnocchi add the pasta back in and the asparagus pieces. Toss the gnocchi and asparagus together with the pesto. Add the reserved pasta water until the sauce has reached the consistency that you would like. Divide into four servings and top with shaved parmesan and garnish with lemon.


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