The tomato sauce I present here was made with fresh tomatoes from my garden. All of a sudden I found myself with an excess of them and figured a rich and luscious homemade tomato sauce made perfect use of the harvest. I can't imagine making a sauce this delicious during the winter months when the fresh tomatoes available are expensive and rather bland. Canned varieties often don't satisfy my palate either. I was delighted to go "grocery shopping" in my backyard for hot peppers and fresh herbs to complete the experience.
I made this sauce for another reason too. I recently came across a recipe that Rosa posted for ricotta gnudi. It looked so gorgeous and was completely new to me, so I figured, why not give it a try. I admit that I was rather nervous, as I didn't know what to expect, but I adore ricotta cheese and it pairs so well with tomato sauce. Dumplings I have made, yes, but these are unlike any dumplings I have tried to date.
What is gnudi you may ask? These pillowy little pasta-like dumplings are Tuscan in origin and are much like a gnocchi without the potatoes, so they are lighter and easier to prepare. They sort of reminded me of ravioli, without the pasta component. Once you have tried them, you will find yourself craving them time and time again.
I left the ricotta mixture to chill for an hour or so in the refrigerator before shaping them, but the dough was still rather sticky and I started to worry that the gnudi was going to fall apart when I added it to the water. Gently shaping them with floured hands on a floured surface helps, and I am still researching all of the different ways cooks can make their own gnudi, and that may take a while, as there appear to be a variety of methods and flavor combinations. For the most part, they didn't fall apart and although these little bites of goodness might not look all that pretty at first to you, when you add the sauce into the mix, it becomes an attractive plate indeed. The gnudi is fairly mild on its own, making it a perfect vehicle for the slightly spicy and herby sauce.
So our Italian evening was a success. Served with a side leafy green salad dressed with an oil and balsamic dressing along with homemade mini Gruyère scones, it turned out to be an intimate meal for three. One of my diners declared it was rather like having a "snacky" meal, and I guess it was, because it was characterized by rustic charm with distinct elegance that really ought to be enjoyed slowly, in a candlelit setting. Sometimes, smaller bites make for the most satisfying dinners.
Notes: I included dried mushrooms in my sauce for an earthly and meaty texture and also sun-dried tomatoes for additional chunkiness and thickness, but you don't need to include them to come up with your own fresh and vibrant sauce. Feel free to experiment with whatever herbs you have on hand and if fresh ones are not readily available, substitute dried herbs from your spice rack. You don't even have to make it spicy at all if you don't want too (simply omit the hot pepper and spices), although I found that the spices enhanced the flavor without overpowering the other ingredients or the gnudi. If you have leftover sauce, serve it with some tortilla chips or boil up a pot of pasta or serve with your favorite savory snacks calling out for a chutney-style sauce. The sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a few days in a well sealed jar or container.
|Ricotta Gnudi with Homemade Chunky Tomato Sauce|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Adapted from Rosa's Yummy Yums
Published on September 16, 2013
Tender, creamy ricotta cheese pasta dumplings served with a rich, vibrant and zesty homemade tomato sauce
More cheesy comfort:
Cheddar Dijon Biscuits
Cheese and Herb Fritters with Tomato and Balsamic Jam
Homemade Olive Tapenade Pizza
Ricotta Dumplings with Mushroom Sauce
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