Ricotta Gnocchetti Is a Low-effort Pasta Anyone Can Make

Ricotta Gnocchetti Is a Low-effort Pasta Anyone Can Make

I get some recipe inspiration from food blogs and bizarre social media trends, but I have a particular fondness for poring through culinary magazines from other countries. Can I read all the languages? Well, I can read the spirit of the food (and a translation app doesn’t hurt). One of my favorites, La Cucina Italiana, included a pasta recipe recently that seemed far too easy—three ingredients (one is salt) and no special tools required. I had to try it. It’s called gnocchetti di ricotta, and I think I’m in love.

You’re probably familiar with gnocchi (gnocchetti’s big brother), an Italian potato-centric dumpling about the size of a pecan. Traditional potato gnocchi requires the patience of boiling and cooling potatoes, the use of a ricer (a tool that manually pushes the potato through small holes to achieve a silky, lump-free consistency), and a bit of elbow grease to form the dough. While you can also roll and cut potato gnocchi into the diminutive gnocchetti, it’s the overall ease of this ricotta-based one that’s got me hooked.

Pasta night made easier with these essentials:

How to make gnocchetti di ricotta

This is a low-effort pasta with a high return. It pairs well with tomato sauce, pesto, cream sauce, or a simple knob of salted butter. All you need is full-fat ricotta, all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt.

1. Pat the ricotta dry

To ensure the dough holds together when boiling, it’s important to eliminate some of the excess water in the cheese. To do this, double up a couple sheets of paper towels and spoon the ricotta into the center. Fold the ends over the cheese and press gently. You’ll feel the moisture dampen the paper towel after a minute or two. Unfold the parcel and put the ricotta into a mixing bowl.

2. Mix the dough

Add the flour to the bowl. The other benefit of this recipe is that the two main ingredients are a near perfect 2:1 ratio of ricotta to flour by weight. So regardless of how many servings you want to make, you can estimate the numbers with this ratio, withholding some of the flour to add only if the dough is still too sticky. Add a pinch of salt and mix the ingredients until the dough comes together into a ball. It should be tacky, but not wet. Rest the dough for 20 to 30 minutes.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Shape the gnocchetti

After the dough has rested, rip off a golf ball-sized piece of dough and use your palms to roll it out into a rope on a cutting board. The dough should be a smidge thicker than a #2 pencil. Use a knife or a bench scraper to chop the dough into third- or half-inch wide dumplings. Toss the dumplings into a bowl with a bit of semolina or all-purpose flour so they don’t stick together. Repeat this with the rest of the dough.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

4. Boil and serve

Shake off the excess semolina and drop the gnocchetti into boiling salted water. Allow them to float to the surface and boil for about three minutes. Drain the water and toss the wee ricotta dumplings with your favorite sauce. Serve immediately.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

These mini pasta pillows are tender, subtly cheesy, and completely satisfying. I enjoy the smaller size because I can scoop more of them onto my fork into a big bite, but you can always shape them into a larger size if you prefer. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve read the raw dough doesn’t keep particularly well. It’s best to boil off all of the gnocchetti and keep the leftovers covered in the fridge. Be sure to gobble those up in the next few days.

Easy Gnocchetti di Ricotta Recipe


  • ½ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

1. Scoop the ricotta cheese onto a double layer of paper towel. Wrap the paper towel over the cheese and press gently to blot out the excess moisture. Unwrap the cheese and add it to a mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl and combine the ingredients thoroughly. The dough should come together into a ball and be slightly tacky, but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a tablespoon more flour. Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Add water to a pot and set it to boil. Divide the dough into small sections, about five or six hunks. Working one at a time, roll a piece of the dough into a ball and then use your palms to roll the ball out into a long rope. Using a knife, cut the rope crosswise to make small dumplings roughly a half-inch wide. Toss the gnocchetti into a bowl with a bit of semolina or all-purpose flour. Repeat this with the other pieces of dough.

4. Once the water is boiling, salt the water and add the gnocchetti. Allow them to float to the surface and then boil them for about three minutes. Drain the dumplings and serve them with sauce, in soup, or simply tossed with some parmesan and olive oil.

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