gnocchi with winter pesto

gnocchi with winter pesto

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions are our own.

Two posts ago, we wrote all in rhyme
We have another poem, if you don’t mind
The holidays are here and filled with cheer
We’ve one more recipe before the new year
Winter pesto is what we’re sharing today
When we first tried it, we exclaimed, “No way!”
Too good to be true, so tasty indeed
We hugged each other and both agreed
We must share this with the world for everyone to make
And recommend you pair it with our chocolate puddle cake

winter (pesto) is coming
toasted hazelnuts are one of the stars of this pesto
pecorino romano has a sharper, saltier flavor than parmesan

We’re partnering with Bob’s Red Mill, one of our favorite brands
In March we visited their factory, and shook the employees’ hands
It was fascinating to see their process in action
Watching grains being milled was quite the attraction
Their products are all-natural, with no additives to be found
We toured their facility and were showed all around
In this gnocchi recipe, we use their All-Purpose Flour
With homemade ricotta, prepare to devour
Take a few minutes, and make your own ricotta cheese
With only 4 ingredients, the prep is a breeze
There’s no comparison to what’s found in the store
Once you’ve tried homemade, you won’t buy it anymore

artichoke hearts before roasting
artichoke hearts after roasting
pre-blended pesto
gnocchi always begins with flour

This pesto is here to make your winter bright
Play your favorite music and set the candles alight
With toasted hazelnuts appropriate for the season
And delicious ingredients to give you more reason
Roasted artichoke hearts are the star of this pesto
With mint and arugula for that emerald glow
Blended with sharp pecorino cheese
And garnished with more toasted hazelnuts, yes please
With a dollop of ricotta, and served with some wine
That fact that you’re still reading this is a true sign
Head to the store and grab a few things
And see all the smiles this recipe brings
Happy Holidays from Adam and Ryan
Oh, one more thing before we say Mahalo in Hawaiian
If you’re looking for new music for a gift or for yourself
And you’ve already filled up your kitchen bookshelf
Ryan’s choir just put out their first CD
Click here for details, it’ll make your ears happy
Have a safe New Year’s and we’ll see you very soon
We’ve got new recipes up our sleeves that are guaranteed to make you swoon
xoxo Ryan and Adam

homemade ricotta is better than anything from the store
this soft dough will rest for 30 minutes
puffy pillows of gnocchi
make some tonight, and freeze others for later

Gnocchi with Winter Pesto
Makes about 100 gnocchi, serves 5 to 7

For the ricotta (see note):
6 cups (1.4l) whole milk
2 cups (473 ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice

For the pesto:
one 14.1-ounce (400 g) can artichokes (packed in water, not oil)
1/3 cup (48 g) whole hazelnuts, papery skins removed, plus more for garnish
1 packed cup (25 g) arugula leaves
1 packed cup (25 g) mint leaves
1/2 cup (57 g) pecorino romano cheese, grated
2 large garlic cloves (10 g), minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling the artichokes

For the gnocchi:
1 pound (454 g / about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus a few tablespoons more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound (454 g / about 2 cups) ricotta (see note)
2 large eggs

For garnish:
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped (see note)
homemade ricotta

To make the ricotta:
In a 3-4 quart pan, stir together the milk, cream, and salt. Set the pan over medium heat, and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan so the tip is fully submerged but not touching the bottom. Stirring occasionally, cook until the temperature reaches 190-195°F/88-90°C (alternatively, if you do not have a cooking thermometer, simply raise the temperature until the milk is steamy, and beginning to become frothy, but not quite boiling). Once the temperature is reached, remove the pan from heat, remove the thermometer, stir in the lemon juice, and stir to combine. Let the pan rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

While the mixture is resting, place a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Line the strainer with a nut milk bag or several overlapping layers of cheesecloth. Once the mixture has rested for 10 minutes, slowly pour it into the strainer, allowing the liquid whey to drain out into the bowl below. Let the ricotta drain for 1 to 2 hours, until thick and spreadable. Note that the bottom of the strainer should not be touching the water below, so empty the bowl of water as needed if it becomes too full. Once drained, the ricotta can be used immediately, or transferred to a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

To make the pesto:
Preheat oven to 450°F/232°C, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Drain the can of artichoke hearts, and cut each one in half vertically. Pat them dry, then place them cut-side-down on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch or two of space between each one. Drizzle each artichoke with a few drops of olive oil, then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until quite dark—almost blackened—underneath when flipped (see photo above). Remove from the hot pan and let cool briefly.

While the artichokes are baking, toast the hazelnuts: first place the nuts in a cool dry skillet. Set over medium heat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to roll around the nuts, until deeply toasted and fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof plate to cool.

In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted artichokes, toasted hazelnuts, arugula, mint, grated pecorino, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper. Process until a chunky paste forms. Then, with the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a small stream. Use immediately, or transfer to a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

To make the gnocchi:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta and eggs until smooth. Pour the ricotta mixture into the bowl of flour, and stir until the dough comes together. Begin using your hands to work and knead the dough, adding additional flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue to knead the dough in the bowl until it becomes stretchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This rest allows the gluten to relax and the dough to become more pliable.

Once the dough has rested, lightly flour a clean surface. Unwrap the dough and divide the ball into 8 equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and roll it into a rope about 3/4-inch wide. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces, and set the pieces aside on the floured countertop in a single layer to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining dough—you should end up with about 100 gnocchi, depending on their size. Let the pieces rest at room temperature uncovered for 15 minutes.

At this point, the gnocchi can be cooked immediately, or frozen for future use. If freezing, place the gnocchi on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet in a single layer without touching. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and chill until frozen solid, about 2 hours. Then transfer the frozen gnocchi to a ziplock bag or sealed container for storage. As they are already frozen, they will not stick together.

To serve:
Bring a large covered pot of water (at least 4 quarts) to a boil, adding 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water.

Once the water is boiling, add the desired amount of gnocchi. Stir gently a few times to prevent sticking, and cook until all the gnocchi are floating. For a more al dente texture, drain them immediately, or for a softer texture continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the gnocchi into a colander. Return the gnocchi to the pot, add several generous spoonfuls of the pesto, and stir, adding pasta water a few teaspoons at a time until the desired creamy consistency is reached. Serve immediately while while hot, topped with dollops of ricotta and sprinkles of chopped toasted hazelnuts:

notes:
— Homemade ricotta could not be more different from ricotta sold in stores. When it is homemade, it is smooth, creamy, and intensely flavorful, whereas store-bought is often grainy, watery, rubbery, and flavorless. It may be an extra step to make your own, but we cannot recommend it highly enough, as it is life-changing.
— If you make homemade ricotta, there will be extra after using a pound for the gnocchi. Use the extra as dollops of garnish for the gnocchi, spread it on toast, or dip crackers and crudités into it. Ot just eat it by the spoonful like we do.

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