Ricotta Gnocchi alla Vodka

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Ricotta Gnocchi alla VodkaThis is our beloved date night in—homemade pasta. Rolling out sheets of noodles can be time consuming, so we prefer making gnocchi, fresh pillowy dumplings drenched in a savory sauce. Alex and I first fell in love with gnocchi on the cobblestone streets in Rome somewhere near the glow of the Pantheon, and we’ve perfected a pretty simple method for making them at home. Instead of the traditional potato version, these gnocchi are made with ricotta cheese, which gets them on the table in about 1 hour. They’re topped with our simplest vodka sauce, where the vodka leaves behind a fruity complexity once the alcohol is cooked out, and Greek yogurt makes the sauce creamy without the over-the-top richness of traditional heavy cream. While homemade pasta is a project, it makes the best memories, like laughing over a bottle of wine with my husband and sister on a snowy December evening, or rolling out long strands on a February double-date with friends.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • ¾ cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup high-quality vodka*
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon (for the pasta water) plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt,
  • divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 handful fresh basil (optional)
How to Make It
  1. Start the vodka sauce: Peel and mince the shallots. Peel and mince the garlic.
  2. In a large saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the pan from the burner and carefully pour in the tomatoes, then add it back to heat and stir in the vodka, oregano, nutmeg, red pepper flakes,
  4. kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for at least 20 minutes (sauce instructions continue).
  5. Make the gnocchi: Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt and bring it to a boil.
  6. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, oregano, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix until well combined. Add the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour and stir until just combined. Lightly flour a countertop, then turn out the dough and gently knead a few times until a very sticky dough forms; a sticky texture is desired at this point. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions; wash your hands to remove the dough coating.
  7. Have a baking sheet ready. Lightly flour the countertop again. Roll one of the portions into a log about 14 inches long and ½ inch in diameter. Use a butter knife to cut the dough into 1-inch-long pillows. Place the formed gnocchi on the baking sheet. Reflour the countertop and shape another dough; repeat until all gnocchi are formed.
  8. Boil the gnocchi in four batches, cooking until the gnocchi float for 30 seconds (about 2 to 3 minutes per batch). Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a plate or baking sheet. Make sure the water remains at a steady boil for the entire cooking time.
  9. Finish the vodka sauce: Return to the vodka sauce. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil into the yogurt, then stir in ⅓ cup of the warm sauce to temper the yogurt and prevent curdling. Scrape the yogurt mixture back into the saucepan and stir to incorporate fully. If desired, you can blend the sauce for a completely smooth texture; we prefer ours chunky.
  10. To serve, mix the gnocchi with the vodka sauce. If desired, top with shredded Parmesan cheese and thinly sliced fresh basil.

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