Chickpea-Ricotta Gnocchi

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 1 hour

Like standard gnocchi (see Potato Gnocchi), these are small boiled dumplings. Since they’re based on chickpeas, not potatoes, they’re heartier and more nutritious. Another benefit: The dough is a little easier to handle. In any case, you can treat exactly as you would gnocchi: sauced like pasta, sauced and baked, or simply tossed in butter or oil. See the list 4 Great Ways to Finish Chickpea-Ricotta Gnocchi for some ideas specific to this recipe.

A food mill here will produce a finer texture than a food processor, but either gives great results. The trick is to keep the chickpeas as dry as possible, so resist the temptation to add any extra water. Just keep scraping the sides of the work bowl or food mill until you get a smooth and fluffy consistency.

Other beans you can use: cannellini or gigante.

Salt

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (see Chickpeas in Their Own Broth), drained until as dry as possible

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

About 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it Put the chickpeas and a little salt and pepper in a food mill set over a large bowl and run them through. (Or use a food processor to mash them as smooth as possible, then put them in a large bowl.) You should have about 2 cups.

Use a fork to stir in the cheese and nutmeg. Add 1/4 cup of the flour and stir; add more flour until the mixture forms a dough you can handle, but just barely. Knead for a minute or so on a lightly floured surface. Pinch off a piece of the dough and boil it to make sure it will hold its shape; if it does not, knead in a bit more flour.

Roll a piece of the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch thick, then cut the rope into 1-inch lengths; traditionally, you would spin each of these pieces off the tines of a fork to score it lightly, but you don’t need to. What you do need to do is be gentle and handle them as little as possible. As each gnoccho is ready, put it on a sheet of wax paper; do not allow them to touch.

A few at a time, add about half of the gnocchi to the boiling water and stir gently. After they rise to the surface, count to 20 (or so) and remove with a slotted spoon. (Taste one or two to make sure your timing is right.) Put in a bowl with a little warm sauce or keep warm in a pan with melted butter within a few minutes first, then finish. These do not keep at all.

4 Great Ways to Finish Chickpea-Ricotta Gnocchi

  1. Toss gently with warm Tahini Sauce and sprinkle with grated Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese. Garnish with chopped black olives and parsley if you like.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of Harissa to Fast Tomato Sauce and sauce them with that.
  3. Serve with Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce.
  4. Float a few in bowls of Smooth Chickpea Soup.