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Danilo Cortellini’s Gnochetti with baked cherry tomatoes and Ricotta

Danilo Cortellini’s Gnochetti with baked cherry tomatoes and Ricotta

The name Gnocchetti (small gnocchi) could be quite generic in Italian culinary culture. We have potatoes gnocchi, pumpkin gnocchi, bread gnocchi and pasta dough gnocchi like in our case here.  

In Sardinia the locals call them ‘Malloreddus and if you move to southern Italy they are likely to be called Cavatelli, with that being said the message I want to pass onto you is that you can call them and shape them as you pleased, that won’t change a thing as long as they are delicious if you ask me!  

The classic tomato sauce is swapped for a dressing made with baked cherry tomatoes for a more intense flavour. Follow my little tricks to reach pasta-perfection and make this recipe a classic in your repertoire.  

Ingredients

Serves: 2 people

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

  • 250g of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of Basil leaves to garnish (other herbs of your choice)
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 80g of salted ricotta (or any other hard cheese, any cheese that you can grate over will work)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

For the pasta 

  • 100 g of durum wheat flour (or plain flour)
  • Extra flour to dust the table
  • 150 g 00 pasta flour (or plain flour)
  • 125 g of water
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Method

Prepare the pasta dough by combining the flours with the water. Knead well with energy until smooth and elastic. You can use a dough mixer if you have one. If using plain flour, you might need to add a little more to the dough if too wet and sticky. The pasta dough is ready when it does not stick on your hands. Wrap in cling film and let it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge. 

While the pasta is resting, prepare the cherry tomatoes. Wash and cut them in half. Place the tomatoes in a shallow baking tray together with the garlic and chilli and dress with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add half of the orange zest, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a few basil leaves. Bake at 180 degrees (gas mark 6) for about 7/8 minutes to the point they are soft and juicy. 

Remove the pasta from the film and cut it into 4 pieces. With the palm of your hands roll the pasta pieces on the table as to create long strings. Like very thick spaghetti. Dust the surface of the table only if the pasta is too sticky.  

Cut from each thick string of pasta little ‘gnocchi’ or little nuggets of dough, I suggest you use a paring knife not too sharp to this. Press & roll gently the little nuggets with your thumb on the table as to move them away from you. This gesture will make the curl and will create a nice groove on their inside which is great to collect more sauce! Dust thGnocchetti with a little flour as you make them. Once ready drop them in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook them for about 4/6 minutes, depending on how big they are, or until al dente. They have to be soft but retaining a little bite. Now drain the pasta and make sure to save some cooking water. Put the pasta straight into the baking tray with the tomatoesadd a little olive oil and pasta water and toss & mix well the Gnochetti with the condiment. Plate straight away and sprinkle with grated ricotta and basil leaves. 

Danilo’s tips

  • Durum flour has a grainy texture and is quite strong, 00 pasta flour has a higher gluten content and is great to make pasta with. If you’re using plain flour, you might need to add a touch more flour to the recipe. If the pasta dough sticks to your hands or to your mixture too much, you’ll need to add slightly more flour. Gluten-free flour will also work.
  • If you can’t find salted ricotta, you can use parmesan or any hard cheese. The best places to find salted ricotta in the UK is Italian delicatessens or online shops.
  • Make sure you have your pasta water on and your oven pre-heated to 200oc.
  • Traditionally you can mix the dough on a table, but you can do it on a bowl. There’s no need to sieve the flour. Make sure the water going into your dough is room temperature. Add olive oil for extra flavour. Mix it together with a fork.
  • Stretch and pull the dough with the palm of your hand and then fold it back until you have a uniform dough, which is smoother and more elastic. If you press the dough, it should bounce back.
  • The dough will last in the fridge for a day and if you can freeze it once it has been made into shapes.
  • When adding your garlic cloves to your tomatoes, you don’t need to peel them as you’ll be taking them out afterwards.

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