Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gnocchi di Ricotta e Spinaci

I feel bad that I've kept this a secret for so long.
Two weeks ago in my Pairing Food & Wine class (I'll never get tired of saying that) we made spinach and ricotta gnocchi... from scratch!
Regardless of the fact that there was only enough for everyone in my class to have 3, I'll definitely be making it again because it was easy, delicious, and totally impressive!
Who doesn't want to say they've made their own gnocchi before?!
Plus, rather than a potato base, it's pretty much entirely spinach, so I guess you could say it's healthy (except for the fact that we drenched ours in a sage butter sauce, but that's another story)

Gnocchi di Ricotta e Spinaci
Serves 6-8 (makes about 50 gnocchi)

500 g Ricotta cheese
500 g fresh (or frozen!) spinach
100 g grated Parmigiano cheese
2 eggs
~50 g of flour
60 g butter
grated nutmeg
fresh sage leaves
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Okay, this is one of those recipes that isn't exactly "precise", and what we did in class wasn't always the same as what the recipe said, so use your best cooking instincts and I'll try my best to describe the process!
1. Clean and wash the spinach leaves and cook them for 4-5 minutes in a covered skillet, stirring often so the leaves will not stick. Remove lid and let liquid evaporate completely. Leave to cool, then squash with your hands to remove any excess liquid. 
**We just used frozen spinach for this step! We put it in a covered skillet with a little bit of water until they had completely thawed out and the water had evaporated. Once it cools, squeeze out as much water as possible! The more you squeeze out now, the less flour you'll need later and the lighter your gnocchi will be!**
2. In a mixing bowl, add ricotta, 70 g of grated parmigiano and eggs. Blend well, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 
3. Mix the spinach into the previous mixture, then begin adding the flour in increments. The amount of flour you need will be based on how well you squeezed the water out of the spinach! The recipe says to add 50 g of flour, but you may need more or less! Add until you can form gnocchi out of it, it should still be a tad wet, but not so much that you can't handle it. 
4. To make the gnocchi, scoop out about a tsp. of the mixture and form into a ball by throwing it back and forth between your hands (aka, don't smash/roll it into a ball, just gently form it by tossing it from one hand to the other). Dust evenly with flour, then set aside. Continue until all the mixture is used. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Don't forget to salt the water!
5. Melt the butter in a saucepan with a few sage leaves, some nutmeg, salt and pepper. (This is one of those steps that Italians can just eyeball and know how much to add, but it's all based on your tastes!)
6. When the pot of water is at a boil, gently drop in the gnocchi. As they come to the top, drain with a slotted spoon and season with the melted butter mixture.

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