Giulia Porta

Ristorante La Nicchia
Via Pinerolo 179, Cavour

In 2002, three young friends, inspired by their passion for food, decided to open the restaurant La Nicchia, a restaurant based on the use of local ingredients, regional recipes and modern influences. Fresh, quality products are sourced from the area around Pinerolo, a gastronomic treasure trove of meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. The name La Nicchia, which means “niche,” evokes the “safe” hiding place where good things used to be stored, and the restaurant takes typical gastronomic specialties and offers them to diners in a spirit of authenticity.   

Gnocchetti filled with saras d’l fen ricotta with Alto Evo raw milk butter scented with hay and thyme, and black Rimbas pepper

The name saras derives from the Piedmontese dialect word for ricotta. Like traditional ricotta, in fact, the cheese is made with the whey from cheese production.

To protect the cheese when they were transporting it to from the mountains to the valley, shepherds used to wrap it in hay.

Hence the characteristic name (in Piedmontese dialect, fen means hay). This dairy product is made especially in the so-called Waldensian Valleys, in the province of Turin: the Val Pellice, the Val Chisone, the Val Germanasca and across the Pedemontana Pinerolese district.

Serves: 4
300 g semi-mature saras (Slow Food Presisium)
70 g flour
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp toma del lait brusc cheese (Ark of Taste), finely chopped salt
1 knob Alto Evo raw milk butter (Slow Food Presidium)
½ l water
1 handful mountain hay
soya lecithin
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (or, in summer, wild mountain thyme)

Work saras in a sieve until soft, add sieved flour, salt, eggs and toma del lait brusc, and knead to a smooth pasta dough.

Cut into small balls, stretch out by hand and shape into long thin grissini.

Using a spatula, cut crosswise into small pieces about 4 cm long and arrange on tray dusted with flour.

Bring to the boil a pan of salted water and toss in gnocchetti. When water returns to the boil, leave gnocchetti for about 3-4 minutes until they float to the surface.

Boil hay and thyme for about 15 minutes, filter, cool and add soya lecithin. Blend with a hand mixer, incorporating as much air as possible.  

Put butter in a skillet, add gnocchetti and toss for a couple of minutes until golden.  

Transfer gnocchetti to pasta dishes, add scented condiment and serve with a twist of freshly ground pepper.