RICOTTA SPINACH GNOCCHI (GNUDI) IN MUSHROOM AND CRISPY SAGE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE
1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese (recipe below or store-bought)
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 ¼ cups flour
The Mushroom Sauce:
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
10-ounces shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup fresh sage leaves
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Strain your ricotta in a sieve lined with cheesecloth for 30 minutes (if using store bought). Line a countertop with 3 layers of paper towels and spread the ricotta in a even layer. Place paper towels on top and squeeze out any excess moisture. Note – if you made the homemade ricotta version, there will not be as much moisture as in the store-bought version.
Place the ricotta in a large bowl with the egg, egg yolk, parmesan, and salt. Chop your well drained spinach finely (you want very small bits). Press between paper towels and add to the bowl with the ricotta. Mix well until everything in the bowl is well combined.
Add the flour to the bowl and gently fold it into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula until well combined and a dough forms, but do not overmix. Dust your countertop with flour and turn the dough onto the counter. Gently pulling the dough together with your hands, gently knead the dough 3-4 times, dusting with more flour if it is sticky. Form the dough into a disk and cut into 4 equal parts and then cut each piece in half again for a total of 8 pieces of dough. Take one piece of dough and roll it into a rope on the counter, about ¾-1” thick. Cut the rope into 8-10 dumplings about 1” wide. Place the dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet and dust with flour. Note – at this point you can freeze the gnocchi on the baking sheet and then place in ziplock bags for later use.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cooking in batches, add 12-15 dumplings to the water and cook until they float to the top and then cook for another 1-2 minutes (total of about 2 ½-3 minutes). Remove with a spider or slotted spoon, letting excess water drip off, and place on a plate tented with foil. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid for the sauce.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the pan and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the gnocchi to the sauce and cook tossing until well coated. Keep warm on medium low heat while you prepare the fried sage.
Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in another large skillet over medium high heat. When the butter starts to bubble add the sage leaves in a single layer. Cook until the butter turns brown and sage is just crispy.
Drizzle the sage butter over the top of the gnocchi. Serve hot in bowls topped with grated parmesan and shaved truffles.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
Pour the milk and cream into a large pot. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 20-30 minutes until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve or strainer, in the sink or over a large bowl (with plenty of room under the sieve to drain). Allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for at least 1 hour, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side and let it sit for up to 2-3 hours). Depending on the size of the holes in your strainer, you may need to gently stir the cheese occasional to help the liquid to drain out.
When the ricotta has reached the desired consistency, transfer to a clean bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (it will also get thicker in the fridge). The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.