Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnocchi with Artichokes Barigoule and Parsley Pistou
At Picholine, these handmade gnocchi are served with artichokes barigoule and parsley pistou, but the gnocchi can also be accompanied by any kind of Provencal-type vegetable sauce or pesto.
Put the ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined colander and use a rubber spatula to push as much liquid as possible out of the cheese. Then gather up the ends of the cloth and turn them over and over again (as though wringing a towel), tightening its hold on the cheese and squeezing any lingering liquid out of it.
Put the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, flour, egg yolk, ½ teaspoon, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the mixture comes together into a smooth ball of dough, taking care not to overmix. If the dough feels sticky, work in some more flour. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Dust a rimmed baking sheet or cookie sheet lightly with flour. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll 1 portion at a time into a rope-like cylinder, 3/4 –inch in diameter, and with a serrated knife cut the cylinder into 1-inch pieces. Gently make an indentation with your thumb in 1 side of each piece and gather the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cylinders, adding more flour to the surface as needed.
Cover the gnocchi with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. This will firm them them up and help them hold their shape when cooked.
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Hold an artichoke with the stem end toward you. Pull off the very small bottom leaves. Break off the larger leaves by pushing with your thumb against the bottom of each leaf as you snap it off about ½ inch above its base, so you are well above the meaty portion, pulling it down toward the stem. A small portion of the bottom of the artichoke leaf should be left anchored to the base. Continue removing the leaves until the only ones remaining are tender and yellow. Cut off the top two thirds of the artichoke, to where the meaty heart begins. Using a paring knife, cut away the tough dark green parts of the leaves to expose the tender heart: This is easily accomplished by first cutting around the artichoke bottom in a strip. Then, holding the knife with the tip at a 45-degree angle, trim the base of the artichoke next to the stem. Peel the stem and cut off the bottom. Remove the fuzzy choke of the artichoke, using a spoon to scrape the heart clean. Repeat with remaining artichokes. Quarter each artichoke and set aside.
Pour ¼ cup olive oil into a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart pot and heat over medium heat. Add carrots, fennel, onion, artichokes, crushed garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Pour in wine, bring to boil over high heat, then lower to simmer until reduced by three quarters. Pour in stock and add thyme, bay leaves, and lemon. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until a knife pierces easily into center of an artichoke. Remove pot from oven; leave oven on.
Use a ladle to skim off one cup of cooking liquid; pour into bowl and reserve. Use tongs to pick out and discard lemon slices, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Set aside vegetables in their liquid and keep warm.
Pour the skimmed cup of cooking liquid into a heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan, and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat and let simmer until reduced by one quarter. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender while gradually adding the remaining olive oil to the sauce to form a creamy, thick emulsion. (This can also be done in a standing blender.) Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Pour 6 quarts of water into an 8-quart stockpot, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook them until they float to the surface, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the ice water, and then to a clean, dry bowl. If not serving the gnocchi immediately, toss with the olive oil, cover, and set aside for up to 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, reheat in boiling water until they rise to the surface.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the reserved vegetables to an 8-inch saucepan over low heat and cook until hot. Toss vegetables with reserved sauce and gently warm over low heat.
To serve, divide the dressed vegetables and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, and divide the gnocchi evenly per plate. Top with 3 thinly sliced pieces of bottarga. Drizzle with pistou (or pesto) over and around the gnocchi and serve.
Photo by Bill Milne