Ricotta gnocchi with creamy tomato sugo

An edible hug: Ricotta gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce.
An edible hug: Ricotta gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce. Photo: William Meppem

This dish is like a warm hug. Ricotta gnocchi, similar to gnudi except for their shape, are the far easier cousin of potato gnocchi. There's no agonising about which potato works best and no dense, tough dough, just delicate, cheesy little pillows. This is one of my most beloved recipes – and one I bring out time and time again during the cold winter months.


For the gnocchi

400g ricotta

120g grated parmesan

3 eggs

100g 00 (double zero, finely milled) flour

70g fine semolina (semola rimacinata)

For the sugo

60ml extra virgin olive oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled

400g tin peeled San Marzano tomatoes, or any high-quality brand

200ml tomato passata

3-4 sprigs fresh oregano (or fresh basil if oregano is unavailable)

To garnish

50ml fresh pouring cream

freshly grated parmesan

freshly cracked black pepper


1. Make your gnocchi first by mixing together the ricotta, grated parmesan, eggs and a good pinch of salt. Combine the 00 flour and the semolina in another bowl. Mix together the wet and the dry with a spatula, just until there are no more dry clumps – don't overmix. Knead a couple of times and then cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

2. When ready to shape the gnocchi, divide the dough into 4 pieces and flour your bench. Roll the 4 pieces into thick logs about 1½ centimetres in diameter. Use a bench scraper or a knife and cut 2-2½-centimetre-long pieces. Do this with all the dough and then, using the back of a fork and well-dusted gnocchi, gently and delicately roll the gnocchi, using your thumb, across the tines of the fork to create ridges in the dough. Set them aside on a tray that has been dusted with a layer of semolina and refrigerate until ready to cook. 

3. To make your sugo, heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium/low heat. Add the olive oil and the peeled whole garlic cloves. Cook them slowly in the oil until they soften (about 15-20 minutes). After that time, crush the garlic, using a fork, into the oil. Open the tin of tomatoes, tip them into a bowl and crush them with your fingers. Add the crushed tomato and passata to the pan along with the sprigs of oregano and a good pinch of salt, and simmer on low for a further 15-20 minutes.

4. While the tomato sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium-high (you want a vigorous simmer, not a roaring boil). At the same time, warm your cream in a microwave or in a small saucepan and set aside. Drop the gnocchi into the water and when they have floated to the top (in 2-3 minutes), they're done. Skim them out of the pot and into the pan with the tomato sugo. Toss them together and divide into bowls. Drizzle the warm cream over the bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper.