This is such a scrumptious dish, a truly seasonal celebration of sweet summer corn.
Gnocchi are typically potato-based dumplings, named for their shape (gnocco means “lump” in Italian). The dough in this recipe is made instead with fresh, sweet summer corn that has been poached in heavy cream and pureed. Combined with fresh ricotta, parmesan, and some cumin and turmeric, the corn puree turns a typically winter staple into a summer dream. The corn puree also serves as a decadent and intensely flavored pillow on which to spoon the gnocchi, which is crisped in brown butter along with some fresh corn kernels. Fried parsley makes for an elegant garnish, the most perfect textural contrast to the tender pasta and plump corn kernels. Appetizer, main course, or side dish, this sweet corn gnocchi will not disappoint!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; fork; large mixing bowl; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; rubber spatula; small saucepan; blender or food processor; large saucepan or stockpot; strainer or slotted spoon; sheet pan; large sauté pan or wok; wooden spoon
5 ears fresh corn
1½ cups heavy cream
kosher salt & ground white pepper 12 ounces fresh ricotta cheese 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1. First prepare the corn puree. Remove the corn kernels from four of the five cobs, and place in a small saucepan with the heavy cream over medium-high heat. Once the cream starts to bubble and comes to a simmer, turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels from the remaining cob and set aside. Remove the poached corn to the blender or food processor with 1 cup of the cream. Season generously with kosher salt and white pepper, and puree until smooth. Add additional cream as needed to create a creamy, porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes up to one day (if more than an hour, refrigerate) before going to the next step.
ILOC tip: the reason not to add all of the cream to the blender/food processor is to control the thickness of the corn puree. If it's too thin, it will impact how the dough comes together, ultimately requiring more flour. More cream can always be added, but too much cannot be removed.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1½ cups of the corn puree with the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, cumin, and turmeric. Mix well to blend, then sprinkle in the flour, ½ cup at a time, and gather the dough into a ball.
3. Divide the dough into sixths. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough with the palms of your lightly floured hands into a long rope, about ¾-inch wide. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the gnocchi to a large sheet pan lightly sprinkled with flour. Drizzle another sheet pan lightly with olive oil and set aside
4. In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the gnocchi in batches until they float to the top of the water and are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Strain with a slotted spoon on a sheet pan drizzled lightly with olive oil.
ILOC tip: while the gnocchi are cooking in batches, warm the remaining corn puree for service (in the microwave is easiest).
5. Fry the parsley for about 20-30 seconds in a small sauté pan with ¼-inch of olive oil heated over medium-high heat. Remove the parsley leaves and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
6. Once all the gnocchi are cooked, crisp them in brown butter in batches. Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan per batch. Once bubbling, add a quarter of the gnocchi on a single later. Let the gnocchi sit in the butter for 2 minutes, undisturbed, without moving, so that the gnocchi crisps and the butter becomes golden brown. Add a tablespoon or two of the fresh corn kernels reserved from the final cob and toss with the now crisped gnocchi. Cook for 30-60 seconds, tossing the corn and gnocchi together, lightly cooking the corn.
7. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual dishes with a spoonful of the remaining corn puree. Add a few fried parsley leaves and freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 appetizer servings or 4 main-course servings.