mark mcewan gnocchi

How to make chef Mark McEwan’s ricotta gnocchi in tomato sauce

As many of us find ourselves cooking at home instead of dining out, we’re sharing recipes from some of Toronto’s top chefs and restaurants.

A staple in Italian cuisine is a classic tomato sauce. A truly simple and delicious sauce takes patience and good ingredients. It’s difficult to get really flavourful tomatoes outside the Mediterranean; especially during the colder months, so chef Mark McEwan’s tip is: don’t be afraid to make sauces using canned tomatoes instead!

Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi Dough

  • 4 kg good quality ricotta, strung overnight
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 14 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt

Combine all ingredients – stirring in the strung ricotta and eggs together first, then mix in the flour, salt, pepper and zest until well combined; taking care not to overwork the dough.

Roll the dough into 1/2-inch-thick ropes on a floured surface and cut into 1-inch pieces. Blanch off the gnocchi in boiling salted water until they float to the surface.

Serve with sauce or toss in oil and chill in fridge on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to use later.

Classic Tomato Sauce

  • 100 oz whole canned tomatoes (ideally – San Marzano Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 5 cloves of local garlic
  • ¼ cup of good quality olive oil
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 bunch of basil, picked and washed
  • finishing salt to taste, upon serving

Begin by crushing the garlic cloves and finely dicing the onion.

In a large saucepan, add olive oil and begin to slowly sweat the diced onions and crushed garlic over low heat. Stir the garlic and onions until translucent to release their natural sweetness and aromas. Once gently and fully cooked through, add all remaining ingredients.

Cover the pan and let simmer for 2-3 hours. Note: over time, the whole tomatoes should break down on their own (do not over-stir).

Once the tomatoes have broken down and basil is wilted, pass the mixture through a food mill. Using a food mill will maintain the natural flesh of the tomatoes ensuring a better texture and flavour. For this recipe, do not puree.

Serve over fresh-made gnocchi and salt to taste upon serving.


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