Ricotta and Basil Gnocchi with Fresh Tomato Sauce (Gnocchi di Ricotta e Basilico al Pomodoro Fresco)


My final days in Italy are, sadly, fast approaching. I have spent 6 weeks back home with my family in the company of my Italian folks, I’ve eaten more than I should, drank way too much Italian red wine, bundled myself and my boys in multiple layers of thermal clothing, scarves, hats and coats, played snow ball fights and I even skiied in the Dolomites for the first time in my life… And after such an intense winter time, I now feel an anchoring for summer, for peeling off a few layers of clothing, for walking barefoot and, more to the point, for vine-ripened tomatoes! The kind you ought to handle with care otherwise they burst in your hands, oozing out  their ruby, sweet liquor, their sticky seeds landing inexorably on the front of your freshly laundered white singlet… In 10 days, back in the Northern beaches of Sydney, I will be able to hit the farmers market and select, pick and eventually turn these summer jewels into Italian’s most loved pasta dressing: Passata di Pomodoro, fresh Tomato Sauce. And as I do that, I’m sure I will be missing my Italian family and the coziness of winter…Such is life!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

For the Ricotta Gnocchi (not to be confused with Potato Gnocchi)

450 g (2 1/2 cups) full-cream ricotta (using low-fat ricotta won’t work…Live a little!)

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon salt flakes

1 pinch freshly ground white pepper

100–120 (2/3 cups) g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

2/3 cup (50 g) freshly grated parmigiano

5-6 leaves of basil, finely shredded

For the sauce

850 gr (2 lb) of fresh tomatoes (or 1 tin of good quality tinned tomatoes or your own Passata)

1-2 shallots (or 1 medium brown onion), finely chopped

4 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 garlic clove, skin on, bashed with back of a knife

1 small celery stick, finely chopped

salt flakes, to taste

a few yellow celery leaves

a handful of basil leaves


1. Start by making the sauce. Wash the tomatoes, score the top gently with a knife and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minutes. Plunge them  into cold water to allow the skin to come off easily. Peel the tomatoes, chop them roughly and set aside.

2. Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Stir fry the shallots, celery and the garlic on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the shallots turn translucent and slightly golden and the garlic smells fragrant. Drop in the chopped tomatoes (or tinned tomatoes, if using. Or, if you’ve been amazingly good, your own Passata…), season with salt and cook on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the celery and basil leaves. Cover with a lid and set aside.

3. In the meantime, make the gnocchi. Discard any excess liquid from the ricotta, then put it in a large mixing bowl with the egg yolks, cheese, salt and pepper. Add the flour and work with floured hands or a wooden spoon until you have a smooth, soft dough – it should be pliable, a little sticky but not too wet. Don’t be tempted to add lots of flour to make it easier to work the dough as the resulting gnocchi will almost certainly be dense and doughy. The secret to soft and pillowy gnocchi is to go easy with flour, use just enough to make the dough come together.

4. Flour your hands and cooking bench generously and divide the dough into 6 pieces. Take 1 piece, sprinkle it with flour and roll it with your hands to form a log. Cut the log into small rectangles and set them aside on a floured wooden board. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5. Turn the heat back on under the tomato sauce frying pan (on low). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drop the gnocchi, in two or three batches, into the pan of boiling water and stir gently.   Cook for 1–2 minutes or until they come up to the surface, then fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them straight into the pan with the tomato sauce. Repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked.

6. Turn off the heat. Serve as it is or with freshly torn basil leaves and a good grating of Parmigiano.



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26 Comments Add yours

  1. Allison says:

    This looks gorgeous and delicious!

    Thank you for linking to my Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe. I’m so happy to have discovered your lovely blog!

    1. Thanks Allison! Love your Sweet potato Gnocchi too!

  2. What a special time in italy…loved reading about it…and the recipe is glorious, as usual! xo Ally

    1. Thanks Ally! Hope your 2013 has kick off nicely! Love, Silvia

  3. Su says:

    Your time in Italy sounds amazing. So does this recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much.

    1. Thanks Sue! It’s so good to be home for a while. I can’t believe it’s almost time to get packing…

  4. Enjoy your last few days in Italy, this is the perfect recipe to end it with! Looks delicious

    1. Thanks Alessandra! Hope you and family have been enjoying a lovely start of 2013. xx

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Siliva. I made this with my son yesterday for a family dinner and it was such a success – every plate scraped clean! The gnocchi were beautifully soft and light, but held their shape perfectly and the sauce was gorgeous (I made it with fresh tomatoes – yum). So thank you – a new favourite recipe is born.

    1. Thanks Rachel, this makes me so so happy! Keep cooking!, xxx Silvia

  6. Ashlee says:

    That sounds like an awesome experience in a wonderful place. I think it would be such a great time to experience the winter weather in Italy. I’ve never been skiing but I would definitely try it in a place so great as Italy. I also found your description of the ripe tomatoes to be exquisite. It really gave a great introduction into the recipe, to let the ingredients play on your mind. They all are fresh ingredients which is great! It also seems pretty tasking but like it would be worth it in the end. The instructions are easy but extensive, just enough to show you how to make the beautiful dish. The picture shows the end product and it looks delicious. I hope to try this recipe at some point seeing as baked gnocci is a prized meal in my house. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks Ashlee, I really appreciate your comment.

  7. Valencia says:

    Cannot wait to make this! Beautiful photos and excellent recipe instructions (mouthwatering too). Grazie!

  8. Roby says:

    The best gnocchi I have ever made and tasted- it was a huge hit. Soooooo light and tasty. There were no leftovers – so I will have to make a double batch next time.

    1. yes, that’s a good idea! My kids go crazy for the,, I always have to make extra.

  9. Greg Gohde says:

    Made this tonight… it was the best gnocchi I’ve ever made or tasted!

    1. Thanks Greg! Makes me very happy!

  10. Tanya says:

    Hi Silvia,
    just made my first ever ricotta gnocchi following your recipe – so delicious, fluffy and light! I had to have a glass of prosecco:)
    Thank you, I find your recipes very flavoursome:)

    1. thanks for letting me know and well done!

  11. Hi Silvia,
    I have always made gnocchi with potatoes, so using ricotta sounds interesting. I am looking forward to trying it. Is it traditional to use ricotta for gnocchi or is that something that you invented?Thanks so much!

    1. Oh, it’s very traditional! And so very delicious!

  12. Andrew says:

    Just made these with gluten free flour. Only put in half the amount of flour. Great result. Cracking recipe.

  13. Edith says:

    Hello Silvia – can you please give me some advice? I want to make ricotta gnocchi with truffle and egg instead of the Sugo. I figure I can do this with a carbonara, omitting the pancetta for truffle. But will the gnocchi break apart in the pan? Is it better to use pasta? Thank you! Xxx

    1. HI, so sorry for late reply! I am sure you would have used your truffle by now, lucky you!!

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