Daring Cooks: ricotta gnocci in a sea of vegetables
My family has always had to deal with serious food allergies, one of the biggest problems being dairy. Unfortunately, I kind of have a thing for cheese and other dairy related things coupled with poor will power. When I was younger, eating too much cheese and other forms of dairy would seriously weaken my immune system and I would end up with the serious sinus infections that knocked me out for at least a week. I got really good at doing my school work from home. I always heard about people ‘outgrowing’ their milk allergies and constantly looked forward to this. Every year, I would think to myself “maybe this is it! maybe I am no longer allergic to milk!” And so every year, I would gorge myself for a week, and seriously regret it later. Until…
A few months ago, I decided to take it slow, starting with a yogurt each day. That went well! Slowly, I have been introducing the dairy back into my system.
Then, last week, I got a horrid sinus infection. This time, though, I am certain it was caused by an Evil Cottonwood Tree (ECT) living immediately outside my apartment. Apparently, I’m allergic to that too. The ECT throws down its cottony masses at me from the instant I walk out of my apartment. I get in my car, and it is still flying around at me. There is no escaping the ECT.
Anyway, even though the dairy wasn’t the cause, you can understand my hesitation with going back to ricotta after my history. I didn’t want to be further pushed down. I wanted to get better. So I waited. But the fun of making the ricotta (along with my impending daring cooks challenge deadline) egged me on. Sure, I could have made ricotta out of tofu–and that looks really fun too, I will definitely be trying that soon–but for my first time making the ricotta gnocci, I really wanted to make it the traditionally way. So I took the risk.
It was completely worth it. Making your own ricotta from home is so simple, I don’t know why I ever bought it from the store before. Mushing up my ricotta for the gnocci was incredibly fun. I used my hands which seemed to work better than any other utensil I could find. Then again, I was never one of those kids who shied away from playing in the mud.
I knew I wanted lots of veggies in my sauce with the ricotta to celebrate spring. So I just boiled up some carrots, tomato, and other goodies then pureed them–so simple, yet so yummy. The light fluffy texture of the ricotta worked perfectly with this. And what better way to sneak your kids their veggies than pureeing them and serving them over gnocci (or their favorite pasta) right?
I really hope you give this a try! The best part? I did not fall back into my sickness! I proclaim victory over the ECT and dairy!
1 roma tomato
2 small (or 1 large) carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1/4 c whey or leftover vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c parmigiano reggiano, grated or cut into small pieces
pinch of sage
salt, to taste
Boil the first 6 ingredients. Drain, reserving the liquid if you want to keep the vegetable stock. Add to blender with all remaining ingredients. Pulse to combine fully.