Pan-Fried Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi

If there ever was a time when I wondered why I never dated an Italian, it would be now. You see, I slept my way through a culinary education.

Yes, my friends, I whored myself out to learn the secrets of authentic Mexican steak tacos, Vietnamese pho ga, Cantonese steamed chicken, American BBQ ribs, Taiwanese deep fried tofu, Korean bi bim bap, Persian polow, Scottish haggis art of eating out every night, Japanese yakitori, French technique of cooking fish, Singaporean…..hmmm, that guy was totally hopeless. Oh yes, and the hunky Thai fling who taught me how to make curry paste.

Before that look of “OMG she didn’t!”settles on your face, permanently creating an extra wrinkle on your forehead, let me further explain. No, I didn’t sleep with all of them…just seduced them enough to divulge their secret family recipes. I only slept with them if I needed access to their mothers, grandmothers or grand-auntie for further clarification of ingredients or technique. I mean, really….you can only understand so much of a recipe between moans.

We all know that the best food comes from grandma’s kitchen – so why spend $80,000 going to the Culinary Institute of America to learn from chefs who learnt from other chefs who learnt from someone’s grandma?

I say go right to the source! It takes zero money, less time and I didn’t have to wear a silly chef’s hat while hustling mastering ancient culinary secrets.

One day, I might just have to even (TM) this technique. All I know is that if I ever got my own cooking show, young children and cute puppies would probably have to cover their ears.

What in the world would you call my cooking show…Boy Meets Bimbo? Jaden’s Big O? Barefoot Tramp? Harlot on the Street? Molto Skank? Unzipped? Semi-Whoring with Jaden Lee? The Hungry Hooker? Good Eats with Loose Women?

Oh please laugh.

I’m just joking.

Sort of.

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi

So I’ve never had an Italian boyfriend. Which is precisely why I’ve never made gnocchi before. I finally decided to experiment, because of this dinner where I experienced the most sensual gnocchi ever in my entire life. I just had to re-create this in my own kitchen. No potato – I used whole milk ricotta. Instead of boiling the gnocchi, I pan fried ’em in butter. And in lieu of a sauce, I opted for simple, bright and tingling: browned butter, lemon and pepper.

I bought one of those wooden grooved doo-hickeys. I don’t even know what they are called. It turns out that since I fried them, I really didn’t need to use the thingamajibber, as the grooves disappeared.

Please try this recipe – I know you will fall in love with this Italian nugget. Slightly crunchy, carmelized exterior gives way to soft, voluptuous, passionate, and soulful interior….just like an Italian lover.


Pan-Fried Lemon-Ricotta Gnocchi

Servings: Prep Time: Cook Time:


1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted + more for dusting
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
1/2 teaspoon finely minced chilli (or red pepper flakes) - adjust chilli based on your tastes
2 tablespoons clarified butter (or just regular butter, but the clarified butter works much better)
1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Combine ricotta, parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading. *If you are using skim milk ricotta - you may have to use more flour, as there is more water content in skim ricotta.

Dough should look like this:

Gnocchi Dough

2. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1" diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1" pieces. You may use your wooden doobie-bopper or tines of a fork to get those pretty grooves that will eventually disappear after frying anyways.

Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocch

3. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil. when butter is just lightly browned, add gnocchi in single layer. Fry on one side for 2 minutes, flip. Add chilli. Fry other side for 1-2 minutes. Timing really depends on how big/thick your gnocchi is. Do a taste test - do you taste flour? Not done yet. Does it taste like a beautiful Italian's luscious lips? Then its done. Serve with a sprinkling of lemon zest, parmegiano and parsley.

This post inspired Food Fusion to make this:

You think I’m kidding?

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Comments 101

  1. Dolores

    I love the way you think… what a way to gain a culinary education. My dating history pales by comparison… I’ve learned Santa Maria style barbequed tri tip and Belgian pommes frittes.

    I learned gnocchi at the elbow of my grandmother… and can’t wait to try yours!

  2. barbara

    Now if I were to introduce you to my 26 year old son he could bring home your cooking secrets for me.

    Great post (and thanks Brilynn for introducing me to Jadens blog.)

  3. Pam

    Hi Jaden,

    I hope you don’t mind, I tried your fantastic ricotta gnocchi, and decided to enter it into a blogging event. I’m still laughing at your “conquests” as an “apprentice chef”. Much more entertaining than learning from a book!

  4. ashley

    Wow that gnocchi looks amazing. And I love that it’s made with ricotta instead of potatoes. I must must try this in the next week!

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  6. valentina

    I came here because of Brillyn and I am so glad I did. you have a lovely blog. I plan on coming back many more times. i will give this recipe a go. Probably now only next Sat or Sunday. I shall come back to report.

  7. Paula

    How in world, after reading this post, could you ever think that I wouldn’t make this dish. OMG, I can hardly wait.

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  10. Joe

    Love the blog as always. I enjoy reading the posts and love the pictures. I just made a baked gnocchi with a choux pastry and it was great. Come take a look and let me know what you think if you have time!

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  13. anna

    okay, so i have to know whether “doobie bopper” is what that thing is actually called. when i googled it, i only got hits for blog posts that reference this one. so, is it real, or is that just an endearment?

  14. anna

    ooh, now that I pay more attention to the beginning of the post (where you call the board by other names), i get it. well, doobie bopper is the best substitute for whatchamacallit that i’ve ever heard.

    beautiful picture and delicious-looking/sounding meal!!

  15. StephenW

    I love gnocchi – but never fried them – will have to try – the humor (I think?!) in your blog entry caught my eye although not as much as your picture did; unfortunately you’re married too – the recipe is a must try – as will be your Blog in the future! ;^Þ

  16. Jessica

    These are AWESOME! Thank you so much for the recipe.
    It was simple, fast and most importantly, delicious!
    I just tested them for a dinner I am having tomorrow.
    I’ll be serving them as a prior course to roasted chicken with olives and lemon and potatoes.
    Delightful-thanks again!

  17. kristine

    Maybe I have been eating in sub-par Italian restaurants, but these are the best gnocchi that I have ever had. I made them last night and I ate them for breakfast this morning too. And very easy to make! Thanks Jaden!


    you’re very welcome! ~j

  18. sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  19. megan fox

    Sign: umsun Hello!!! rcuwwymhyw and 2207ssgfhphzye and 4408Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post nice! I just came across your blog and wanted to say that Ive really enjoyed it.

  20. Jenevieve

    First things first, I love that you’ve collected culinary knowledge from boyfriends past 😉 A much better parting gift than ,say, the traditional collection of old sweatshirts, CD’s and terrible jewelry you never want to wear again! You are definitely my kinda gal!

    Secondly, my hubby and I just made these tasty little morsels and they were ORGASMIC. We subbed out the parm for fontinella (b/c we had it on hand) and I’d suggest that for anyone who likes a tangy bite, not unlike asiago, to their gnocchi.
    You can bet your knickers I’ll be making these again! Thanks, girl!

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  22. Leanne

    Looks gorgeous! Just what I needed to use up some ricotta in the fridge tonight! Mine is homeade (not by me) so I’m letting it drain a bit. Do you think the dough can be made ahead and refrigerated?

  23. Nisha

    “Singaporean…..hmmm, that guy was totally hopeless” I reckon i should be, at least, a little offended since i’m Singaporean myself but i just had to laugh. 🙂

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  27. Julie

    I can’t wait to make these again for guests. But can these be made hours in advance and kept in the refridgerator, or might they dry out?

  28. nata

    hi, i have some leftover ricotta with fresh spinach in it (leftover cannelloni filling), have you tried making these with something mixed in?

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  30. Liv B

    oh, my, my goodness. Even from the first photo you had me. I’m an Italian but not from the area that make gnocchi and I’ve never really been a fan of the potato ones. I have tried pan frying them, and love them like that though. They’re a rather decadent snack 😉 I have been wanting to try the ricotta gnocchi, which has surely got to be a healthier version, for ages. This might just be the clincher. I can’t wait to try it!

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  33. ellen

    I have been making this for years, thanks to you, and realized that I should really comment to THANK YOU for the joy it has brought to my life (and my friend and family too)!

    It is so easy, so flavorful, and so fun. I freeze them to and it works just fine. Thanks so, so much.

  34. Cheryl

    I made these tonight because I love lemon-ricotta gnocchi, but I’d never had them pan fried. I was a little disappointed… the gnocchi themselves were good, but by themselves, they didn’t seem like a full meal. I think I would add some vegetables to them–maybe peas–to round out the dish.

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  40. georgia

    The reason I laughed so hard is because I just realized I do the same thing!! Such a clever wit, and I will be for sure making this gnocchi <3

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