I know what you're thinking Gnocchi are potato not cheese. Well you're right, but as I found out this weekend they can also be made with ricotta. Sometimes called Gnudi these pillowy gnocchi remind me of ravioli filling without the pasta shell. They are a lighter and, I think, an easier to make version of the gnocchi. The recipe below is adapted from Mario Batali's cookbook, Molto Italiano and is my submission for this week's Presto Pasta Night. Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel Gnocchi 1 1/2 lbs ricotta cheese 1 cup unbleached flour, plus more as needed 2 large eggs, beaten 1 Tbs chopped Italian parsley 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg Olive oil Sauce 2 lbs sausage, removed from casings and crumbled 1 Tbs fennel seeds, toasted and finely ground 1 Tbs hot red pepper flakes 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and finely chopped 1 carrot, finely diced 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 2 cups of Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe below) 1. Put the ricotta in a fine sieve set over a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. The cheese will become firmer and drier. 2. To make gnocchi, in a medium bowl combine the drained ricotta, flour, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir together gently until a soft dough forms. Add a little more flour if the dough is sticky when poked with a fingertip. 3. Dust your hands with flour and shape the dough into balls, using about 1 tbs of dough for each one. Place the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with lightly floured parchment paper. 4. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 Tbs of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the stove top. 5. Gently slip only as many gnocchi at a time as will float freely into the boiling water, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to separate them and cook until they rise to the surface, about 7 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting into the center; it should be the same color and consistency all the way through. Scoop them out of the pot with a wire skimmer as soon as they are cooked and transfer to the ice bath. As soon as the gnocchi are cooled, drain and transfer to an airtight container. Toss with olive oil to coat and refrigerate until ready to cook. 6. In a heavy bottomed 10-12 inch saute pan, cook the sausage over high heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate. Add the fennel seed, red pepper flakes, onion, fennel, carrot, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until the vegetables are well browned, about 10 minutes. 7. Return the sausage to the pan, add the tomato sauce, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender and the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 8. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 Tbs salt. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, and cook until they float to the top. Drain. 9. Add the gnocchi to the pan with the sauce, return to medium-high heat, and toss gently for about 1 minute to coat. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, top with pecorino and serve immediately. Basic Tomato Sauce makes 4 cups 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 Spanish onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 3 Tbs chopped fresh thyme 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded 2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes salt 1. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes. 2. Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for 6 months.