Basil Ricotta with tomato Sage Sauce, White Bowl

Basil Ricotta Gnocchi With Tomato Sausage Sauce

When the garden puts forth wonderful basil each summer, there are so many delicious things to be made!  This version of cavatelli has ricotta cheese in the dough and is not quite as soft as potato gnocchi.  This “pasta” is another end of summer, last of the basil, dinner in our house!  If you have some “OO” flour in the cupboard, you might like to try using it in combination with unbleached flour.  If you have a cavatelli maker, feel free to use it, making sure the dough is floured enough so it won’t stick when going through the machine.  When I am feeling lazy, I simply cut the raw sausages into 1″ pieces, brown in the EVOO and then continue with the sauce.  You could even grill the sausages on the barbecue, cool then cut them up into pieces and reheat in the sauce.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

For the Cavetelli

2 eggs
10 fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese (not skim or low-fat)
2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
1 to 1 1/2 cups flour (approximate), I use Italian “00” flour & unbleached flour

In a food processor, with the motor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube. Scrape down bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, torn basil leaves, & pepper to the bowl; process until mixed; add the ricotta & cheese; process until blended. Add ½ cup of flour at a time, process using on/off turns, just until incorporated, before adding more flour, until the mixture forms a soft, slightly dough. It will be sticky but you don’t want to add too much flour. Remove from the processor onto a flour dusted surface & gently shape into a ball. Place on a flour dusted shallow bowl, cover & chill for 1 ½ hrs.

To shape the Cavetelli:

Remove dough from the fridge & divide into 4 pieces. On a very lightly floured surface, roll each into a long tube, approximately 1/2” in diameter. Continue rolling the other 3 pieces of dough. With a sharp knife, cut the ropes into ½” pieces.

Place the cut cavatelli onto a lightly floured rimmed baking pan, cover & place in the fridge until ready to cook them.

Make the Tomato-Sausage Sauce:

2 – 4 Tbsp. EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) tin Italian tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
2 or 3  (6” long) Italian sausages, either with fennel or not (or Italian turkey sausages)

(opt.) pepperoncino (chili flakes) to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, brown the sausages on all sides. Remove & reserve. Heat the EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat & cook the garlic in the oil for a minute or so without the garlic taking on any colour; add the chili flakes & dried oregano (if using); add the tomatoes & bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into chunks & add to the sauce. Reduce the  heat & simmer the sauce about 25 minutes (until thickened), add the fresh oregano, basil & parsley, simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper, keep warm.

While the sauce is simmering, remove the cavatelli from the fridge & bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 Tbsp. salt. Place the cavatelli onto a flat tray in one layer, leaving behind any excess flour & slide them into the boiling water. Give them a stir& in a minute or so they will begin to float to the surface. Cook the cavatelli for a total of approximately 7 – 8 minutes. Have ready a warm serving bowl. With a slotted spoon remove the cooked cavatelli to the bowl; ladle the sauce over &  gently give them a stir using a spatula. Serve hot, passing either Pecorino or Parmigiano!


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