Pasta Gnocchi with Braised Fennel, Lemon and Ricotta
10 ounces dried gnocchi or similar- size pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch thick wedges
¾ cup dry white wine (Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc)
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ounces ricotta, preferably from Bellwether Farms
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives or chopped Italian parsley
Olio nuovo or Meyer lemon olive oil
Chives and/or parsley sprigs, for garnish
Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full with water, add a generous tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
While waiting for the water to boil, pour the olive oil into a heavy saute pan and set over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the fennel and saute, turning frequently, until the fennel starts to pick up a bit of color. Season with salt, add the wine and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook until the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the saucepan, when the water reaches a rolling boil, stir in the pasta and keep stirring until the water returns to a boil. Cook until just tender, drain and do not rinse. Tip into a wide and shallow bowl, with some of the cooking water still clinging to the pasta.
Add the fennel and all the pan juices to pasta, along with the remaining lemon juice, lemon zest and chives or parsley. Toss gently, until the cheese is evenly distributed and clings to the pasta.
To serve, divide among individual pasta plates. Drizzle each portion with some of the olive oil, garnish with an herb sprig or two and enjoy right away.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including "Pasta Classics." Email her at email@example.com