In Italy they often call sauce "condimenti" or some shit. I read it in a cookbook. Point is, in Italy it's all about the pasta; Pasta served with as little ingredients as possible. I've always loved that - and look, I'm not here to lecture you about how they do things in Italy. I'm not from there. I think Italian-American pasta can be great. I'll defend a cream based alfredo sauce. Stuffing a pasta dish like a casserole, while barbaric to Italians, represents comfort food to me.
That "condiment" concept, though, is something that I've thought about quite often. Here, I kind of literally applied the idea and practice of condiments to this gnocchi dish. I served pasta with some sides. I made fresh ricotta, gremolata, and added a slice of lemon to the plate. The dish is compartmentalized. There's no homogeneous sauce to speak of. Gnocchi and condiment works well because of texture. If you're not searing gnocchi, I highly recommend doing it - it almost creates a new layer of potato skin on the outside. No longer pillow-y in nature, a seared gnocchi has some firmness going for it. The creaminess of the ricotta helps balance out some of that hardened gnocchi texture, and the gremolata is a condensed version of my ideal pantry pasta. Lemon, like basil, to me is best when it's fresh and added at the end. I kind of love this strict translation of the word "condiment" in terms of pasta. It creates a new experience.
To Make Ricotta
4 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
Ricotta is simple as hell to make. Simply bring the milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil on medium heat. Stir as needed. Don't scorch the bottom of your pan, that's what the medium heat is for. When it's boiling, squeeze a lemon in there and take it off the heat for 2-3 minutes. Let it curdle. Strain over a cheesecloth that's set over a strainer, and let it drain for about 10 minutes. You got ricotta, baby.
Here are the recipes for gremolata + gnocchi. When you cook gnocchi, it's basically ready as soon as it starts to float. After it floats, strain and transfer to a rip-roaring hot pan that has a little olive oil in it. Get a good sear on both sides. Get some color on it. From there, it's a matter of assembling your condiments.