Easy ricotta gnocchi with fennel tomato sauce

This ricotta gnocchi with fennel and tomato sauce is both light and comforting.
This ricotta gnocchi with fennel and tomato sauce is both light and comforting. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

There's nothing better than these little puffy pillows of comfort. We're often put off from making gnocchi – all that effort only to have lead bricks that sink to the bottom of the pot or offer too much chew. Not here – this ricotta gnocchi is easy dinnertime glory, and both light and comforting. You can make the gnocchi ahead of time and let it rest covered in the fridge. You can also make the sauce in advance, ready for a midweek meal that's ready in minutes.

Ingredients

Tomato sauce*

½ fennel bulb, finely chopped (reserve remaining half for serving)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small white onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped

400g can crushed tomatoes

1 cup white wine

Gnocchi

400g ricotta, drained

120g plain flour

3 egg yolks

¾ cup finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve

To serve

reserved fresh fennel and fronds (optional)

lemon juice

1 tbsp butter (if pan-frying, optional)

cherry tomatoes on the vine (room temperature or roasted, optional)

shaved parmesan

Method

1. Finely slice the reserved half fennel head using a mandolin. Squeeze over some lemon juice to prevent browning, and cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

2. For the sauce, place a deep frypan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, fennel and onion and sweat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper then add the oregano, stirring to coat. Add the tinned tomato and white wine and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of brown sugar if you feel the sauce has a bit of a tang.

3. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the gnocchi. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. As it is coming to the boil, combine the gnocchi ingredients in a bowl, using your hands (or a pastry scraper). Don't overwork the dough, just bring it together and if it feels too sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour.

4. Shape the dough into a disc then cut the disc into about 8 wedges. Using your hands, gently roll each piece into an even sized log. Cut each log into bite-sized gnocchi squares – don't be worried about perfecting the pieces of gnocchi, they puff and end up in sauce. Lightly dust the gnocchi with flour and give them a gentle toss to lightly coat.

5. Gently add the gnocchi to the boiling water. As soon as the gnocchi is done it will look slightly puffed and float to the top. Drain using a slotted spoon. You can briefly fry the gnocchi in another frypan with 1 tablespoon of butter if you want a crisp edge, otherwise add straight to the sauce and turn to coat. Alternatively, you can distribute the sauce between serving bowls and top with gnocchi.

6. Add a scattering of reserved fresh fennel, its fronds, cherry tomatoes (if using) and some shaved parmesan. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.

*Note: You could also adapt 2 cups of my Quarantine sauce for this, and add the fennel and oregano while it reheats.