Mar 06 2010

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto and Pancetta

Published by at 1:24 pm under Dinner

When I moved out to San Francisco back in 2008, my dad came out here with me to execute a smooth transition. We stayed in a hotel downtown, and he characteristically made reservations at all of the buzz-worthy restaurant he’d read about online and in the issues of Gourmet and Saveur he pores over every month. One such establishment was A16 — the rustic Italian restaurant in the Marina known for its authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas and very lengthy wine list — and we were immediately smitten. Though the food is top-notch, A16 succeeds in being unpretentious and accessible (I love that they keep half of the restaurant open for walk-ins).

I’ve been back several times since with friends and family (and on a recent Valentine’s Day celebration!), and my dad surprised me on Christmas last year with the official A16 cookbook. I’ve spent plenty of time reading it but, as I decided this weekend, not enough time cooking from it. So I decided to try out their recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi — mainly because it’s one dish that doesn’t require a pasta machine.

I don’t pretend to know anything about making pasta, and especially not more than the A16 team knows. That’s why I followed this recipe exactly, without making any changes, though I would note that I only had part-skim ricotta cheese at hand, and I used much more flour than the recipe called for. I tossed the pasta in some pesto I made in my food processor and sautéed pancetta to add to the dish as well.

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto and Pancetta


For the gnocchi (serves 4; My assistant and I ate about half of this recipe and froze the rest — it freezes well!):

2 cups ricotta cheese, drained

2 tbsp. olive oil


1 egg yolk

1/2 egg, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina flour


For the pesto:

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup pine nuts

About 5 cups basil

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon


1/2 lb. pancetta, chopped into cubes

Additional 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)


Combine ricotta, olive oil and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until smooth, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk and half beaten egg and mix for another minute until combined.

Clear off work surface (I laid down some wax paper on my kitchen counter). Pour half a cup of all-purpose flour over the wax paper and pour ricotta mixture on top, then fold ricotta mixture into flour. As I mentioned before, I ended up adding much more flour (probably about 1/2 cup) to make the end result solid enough. Mix until dough comes together and feels tacky, but doesn’t stick to your fingers. Don’t overwork or it will be tough.

Pinch two pieces of the dough off and drop into salted boiling water. Boil for three minutes after the gnocchi begin to float. Taste and add salt if needed, or if the gnocchi fall apart in the water, mix in the rest of the egg as a binder.

Add another light layer of flour to the work surface and divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll into long logs (about 1/2-inch wide) and then roll the logs in the semolina flour. Cut logs into 1-inch long pieces and dust with extra semolina flour. Place gnocchi in salted boiling water and again, boil for three minutes after they begin to float.

Mix garlic, pine nuts, basil, parmesan and lemon into food processor. Slowly incorporate olive oil with the food processor still running.

Sauté pancetta cubes in 1 tsp. of olive oil in a large skillet until cooked (about 10 minutes on medium heat).

Use straining spoon to remove gnocchi from water and set aside in a bowl. I froze about half of the gnocchi and divided the rest between myself and my assistant for this dinner. Pour pesto over desired amount of gnocchi and toss until combined. Serve onto 2 plates. Top each with half of the cooked pancetta. Divide additional parmesan cheese over gnocchi, if desired.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto and Pancetta”

  1. Davidon 10 Mar 2010 at 9:03 am

    Liv, the recipe looks great. I didn’t see you mention how well you and “your assistant” liked it? On a serious note, for your pesto recipe, is that 5 cups of packed basil leaves or are they loose and not compressed at all? Also do you not add any garlic to your pesto?

  2. Livon 10 Mar 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks, David! Yes, of course I used garlic — one clove for this recipe. Thanks for reminding me. Oh, and it tasted great. My assistant actually said it was his favorite thing I’ve ever cooked for him!

    And as for the basil, I had only bought one bunch at the store, so that’s how much I used to make the pesto, but ideally I would have had a bit more. I would say just to buy two small bunches and use about 1.5 to two of them, which I’d estimate would be about 5 cups loose and 2 cups packed. Hope that helps!

  3. Davidon 11 Mar 2010 at 9:54 am

    Thanks Liv, I think I will try both the pesto and the gnocchi recipe. It looks wonderful.


  4. […] assistant has told me time and time again that his favorite meal I’ve made for him was the Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto and Pancetta I cooked last month, so at his urging, we stuck with the pesto/pancetta theme for yet another meal […]

  5. liv bites » Second-Generation Pastaon 20 May 2010 at 7:43 am

    […] solely to pasta- and pizza-making, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the fresh stuff. The Ricotta Gnocchi was my first foray, but I was ready for real noodles this time […]