Weekend Recipes: Homemade Ricotta, Ricotta Gnudi and Simple Tomato Sauce

The days are getting longer and warmer (Woohoo! at long last!), so why not take advantage of the last few wintery days and spend some quality time in your kitchen! And what better to make than an easy homemade pasta, ricotta gnudi (yum.), very comforting and yet surprisingly light! To make this recipe even better, you are going to make your own ricotta! If you are shaking your head right now, fear not, making ricotta is incredibly easy, and takes only about 30 minutes. Believe us — you will never want to buy ricotta again after tasting the homemade difference.

So let’s get started with the ricotta!

You will need:
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth (or paper towels — they work just fine!) with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth (or paper towels).

Pour the milk and cream into a medium sized pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for about two minutes, it will separate into curds and whey.

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Pour the mixture into your lined sieve, and allow it to drain for about 20 minutes or until it looks dry and semi solid. The longer you let the ricotta drain, the thicker it will be! You can use the ricotta immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It will keep for about a week!

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And what to do with this delicious ricotta you ask? How about make some homemade ricotta gnudi!

For 4-6 servings (I think we may have polished most of this off between the two of us…it is just that good) you will need:

2 cups of ricotta (you should have that plus a bit extra from your batch!)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup grated parm (plus more for serving!)
1/2 cup flour (plus more for dusting)
S+P to taste

Get a large pot of water boiling on the stove.

Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).

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You can shape the pasta in one of two ways:

Make little balls of it by hand (or with two spoons), set aside on a baking sheet dusted with flour.

OR stick all of the ricotta mixture in a piping bag (or plastic bag with a corner cut off, then slice the pasta straight into the boiling water!

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Let the gnudi cook in the boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how large or small you made them. Note that they will float to the surface early on in the cooking process but this is a TRICK, they are still not done.  We suggest a taste test to really make sure the middle is nicely cooked.

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When they are finally done, toss them together (gingerly! these little guys are delicate) with your favorite sauce (see below for a quick & easy tomato sauce) and more parmesan of course!

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Simple Tomato Sauce – great on anything from pizza to ravioli and a good recipe to have in your back pocket.

You will need:

2 14.5 oz. cans tomato puree
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely diced
a good splash of white wine or dry vermouth
pinch sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 T butter
1 T olive oil

In a saucepan cook the garlic and onion over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are translucent and the garlic fragrant.  Add a good splash of white wine (about 1/4 cup) and then the tomato puree.  Let that come to a simmer, add a good pinch of sugar (1-2 T depending on how acidic your tomatoes are) a good tab of butter and salt and pepper to taste.  The longer the flavors meld the better – so get the sauce a simmerin’ when you turn the water on to boil…

Any leftover ricotta after all that? It makes a lovely breakfast atop whole wheat toast with a smear of honey!

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Have a lovely weekend!

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