Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ricotta Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Many people are nervous at the idea of making their own pasta, and I suppose for good reason. Pasta is one of those easy-to-impress dishes, which is only magnified by it's easiness to prepare.  All you have to do to earn rave reviews is to toss a box of dried pasta into some hot water, and take the praise as it comes at you, because everyone loves pasta.  But making your own pasta brings your dish over the top, transforming it from a plain old pasta dish to a magnificent culinary creation.  

Ok, so perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic, but I found a pasta recipe so simple, every apartment cook would be able to make it with no difficulties whatsoever.  It's a classic twist on the well known gnocchi, or Italian pasta dumpling.  Normally made with potatoes, gnocchi are tender and delicious when cooked, though slightly time-consuming to prepare.  With this recipe, ricotta replaces the potato in the dough, making it easier and faster to prepare.  

The end product, however, is no less delicious, rich, or satisfying.  In less than 20 minutes, you too can make your own pasta from scratch...and no one has to know how easy it was.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Served 2
Leftover Potential: Reheats relatively well, but do not keep for more than 1 or 2 days as the gnocchi begins to lose some of it's texture.  Provided one more meal after the initial dinner.

For the gnocchi:
2 oz all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6.5 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
.75 oz olive oil

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 pieces bacon, cooked until done in the oven, then chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 cup chives, finely minced
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese, to  garnish

1. Mix together the flour and the salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate container, mix together the ricotta, egg, and olive oil.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the ricotta mixture.  Mix until completely combined into a useable dough, 1-2 minutes.
2. Form the gnocchi using your hands and a fork.  For video instructions, check THIS out.
3.  When all the gnocchi are formed, cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water until they are cooked through completely, and rise to the surface, about 6-8 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and set aside.
4.  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until beginning to caramelize.  Then, add the garlic and allow to cook until aromatic, about another minute.  Add the bacon and allow to cook until it gets even crispier, 1-2 minutes.  Add the chives, and season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste.  
5.  Serve in a warm bowl with grated parmesan cheese.  

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