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Nov 22, 2005 01:34 AM

Zuni ricotta gnocchi report

  • c

After wanting to make Zuni's ricotta gnocchi since my love affair w/ the cookbook began, I finally got around to it tonight! Result is pictured below; sliced into one dumpling so you could see fluffy texture. I'm so grateful to have found the recipe on Martha's website so I don't have to paraphrase (see link).

Wanted to wait til I could get some really good fresh ricotta and bought some Bellwether Farms brand yesterday. While it doesn't specify in the book, believe this is the kind the restaurant uses. You can use any good quality ricotta though. Had to restrain myself from eating the container since the plain ricotta was so darn good...creamy, buttery, no wateriness or acerbic flavor at all. I didn't have to drain out excess water since this cheese was perfect in consistency.

The linked recipe is slightly different from the cookbook one. Most significantly, the cookbook version uses 8 TB butter for the sauce instead of 4 TB and adds a little water. I'd say that 6 TB butter and no water is a good compromise.

Like most of Rodgers' recipes, it looks sort of daunting b/c of the length (about 5 pages in the book), but the doing is actually easy and straightforward. Stand mixer will make life alot easier though since I beat the batter to death to maximize fluffiness. I pretty much followed the method, except I used XL eggs and made the gnocchi a little larger than specified. Forming this gnocchi takes patience (not like making potato gnocchi) so I got sloppy at the end, but it doesn't really matter since these are freeform and should be a little quirky.

I added some fresh grated nutmeg to the batter and used quartered crimini mushrooms instead of chanterelles. Sage was great w/ this. Drizzle of truffle oil might have been nice at end, but not necessary and I didn't have any good stuff.

Verdict? Delicate, ethereal, very feminine. Beguiling juxtaposition btwn. light as air texture and rich buttery and cheesy flavor. Mushrooms added a needed earthiness and meaty texture, and Rodgers provides other variations in the cookbook. Like most gnocchi, the richness and monotony makes it ideal for a first course as opposed to main.

While I enjoyed this dish and would make it again, I wouldn't say that I loved it as much as many of the other standouts in the book. Something about it didn't seem as balanced to me. Too much egg, not enough flour, too much butter. The wonderful ricotta flavor got drowned out in all that. Regardless, not a bad Mon. night supper and so glad to have discovered that cheese!

Any tried and true ricotta gnocchi recipes that might be more balanced?



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  1. Out of curiosity, did you use Bellwether's cow or sheep milk ricotta? I really wanted to pick some of this up last time I was at the Cheeseboard, but I didn't think it would survive the drive back to LA.

    Anyways, I tried the same recipe a few years ago and I had the hardest time getting the gnocchi to work. That was probably because I used supermarket (well, TJ's) ricotta. The chanterelle mixture was delicious, though.

    4 Replies
    1. re: emily

      I used the cow's milk one...they made it a point to emphasize from "Jersey cows", FWIW. Got mine at the Pasta Shop on 4th St. in Berkeley ($6.99/lb).

      When you made this w/ the TJ's ricotta, did you follow the draining instructions? What problems did you encounter exactly? Seemed like this recipe should work as long as excess moisture is removed, but maybe there's more to it.

      While the dough was delicate, it held together during the flouring process fine. Cooking was also a breeze. I had it on gentle simmer and none fell apart. Main difficulty was sloshing them around in the brown butter to coat since they were delicate.

      I'm going to try this recipe again but omit one egg and the one TB of butter in the batter. Am going to add a little flour into the mix instead.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        I did drain my ricotta, but not enough. The dough looked ok, but fell apart while boiling, so that I had to keep mixing in flour to get it to stay together. I also had problems with Mario Batali's recipe, and I did drain/squeeze my ricotta very thoroughly for that one. So, maybe it's me. I'd like to try again with good ricotta, though, since that's what these chefs are using.

        1. re: emily

          Hmmm...the only thing that I can think of is that your dough isn't binding properly. I don't think I would have been as successful if I didn't have my KA mixer. A hand-held mixer wouldn't have been as good b/c I'm sure my arm would've gotten tired too early. I beat it for a while each time I added another ingredient and used one of the higher speeds. Hope you persist and are successful next time!

        2. re: Carb Lover

          I find this recipe very forgiving. It can be tweaked in various ways. I think the butter is a flavor thing.