19 Jan Ricotta Gnocchi and Tomato Sugo

Small, Substantial

Ricotta Gnocchi and Tomato Sugo

19 January 2024

PREP. TIME: 15 MIN     -   COOK: 10 min   -    Serves: 4

Ricotta and a small amount of flour somehow makes the lightest, most digestible, and easiest to make gnocchi that you will ever have the pleasure of eating. Be sure to add the flour slowly - 1/3 at a time and stirring it to bind well before adding more. Depending on the ricotta - you may only use 1/3 to 1/2 cup flour. This will mean the gnocchi is much lighter. You can also use gluten free flour for a very satisfactory gluten free alternative.

Be sure to buy your ricotta from the deli counter in larger supermarkets or Italian delicatessens. The ricotta from these large, fresh rounds generally hold less liquid than packaged ricotta and it doesn't have any additives. For best results, drain the ricotta in a wire strainer balanced over a bowl for half an hour to remove any excess liquid. Keep the ricotta on the bench during this time - it will be easier to work with than when it is cold from the fridge.

A simple tomato sauce for pasta is essentially what the Italians would call a Tomato Sugo. 

This sauce is best made with those wonderful fresh, small sauce tomatoes that are available from late Summer to Autumn.

If you are using fresh tomatoes for the quantities in this recipe - you could simply grate them on the coarse side of the grater. (If you are using a larger volume of tomatoes you should either skin the tomatoes first before adding them to the oil otherwise put the whole sauce through the coarse blade of a food mill once the sauce is cooked.)

Here are links to some other dishes utilising this delicious tomato sauce : Simple tomato Sauce for Pasta ; Meatballs in Tomato Sauce ;

Large White Beans in Tomatoes

Recipe Template


600g fresh ricotta - drained - see above.

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Grana Padana, cheese, plus extra to serve.

1 cup plain flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grated nutmeg

500 g grated fresh tomatoes, or a 400g tin of tomatoes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic - whole, unpeeled

1 teaspoon dried oregano or a sprig of fresh basil or oregano

Salt and Pepper to season


Wire strainer and bowl

Chopping Board and Kitchen Knife


Mixing bowl

Wooden fork or spoon

Large pot and slotted spoon

Heavy based pan

Wooden Spoon


1. Prep

Mix the drained ricotta, the grated cheese, salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg.

Add 1/3 cup of flour and stir into the ricotta mixture. Add a little more if necessary to create a firm but soft dough. Do not feel that you have to add all of the flour - less is best.

2. Make the gnocchi
Sprinkle a spoonful of flour on your clean work surface.

Dampen your hands in water and lightly roll out the dough  2 cm thick 'sausages -  Cut into 2 -3 cm lengths. 

Gently indent each piece of gnocchi with the back of a fork.

If you are not cooking the gnocchi immediately, place a piece of baking paper on a tray that will fit in the fridge. Arrange the gnocchi on the tray - keeping each piece separate. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for cooking the gnocchi

4. While the water comes to the boil - make the tomato sugo :

Place the whole garlic clove, oregano and olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Heat gently until the garlic colours and becomes aromatic.

Turn up the heat and add the tomatoes - they will spit as they hit the hot oil so stand back and try and get as many in at once to quickly reduce the temperature of the oil.

Stir occassionally - cooking over high heat until the tomatoes are broken down and amalgamated with the oil..
Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and stirring occassionally - reduce the sauce so it is rich and thick 

Taste and season again.

5. While the sauce is simmering - Cook the gnocchi

Place about 1/3 of the gnocchi into the boiling salted water.

Cook the gnocchi  for 3 - 5 minutes by which time the gnocchi should float to the top of the pot.

Scoop out the gnocchi as they cook and place in the pan of freshly made, hot, tomato sauce.

Finish cooking all of the gnocchi as above and toss in the sauce.

6. To Serve

Serve from a heated serving dish with extra cheese. on the table


Recipe adapted by Elizabeth Peddey from Modern Italian Food by Stefano de Pieri

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