Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi



This kind of gnocchi is really so much easier to make then the regular potato gnocchi. I have given a recipe for four serves, but really you can easily double it, store it in the fridge for lunches the following day or freeze the gnocchi (without sauce- just on a tray, separated to stop it from sticking) and reheat in boiling water on nights when you feel like something quick and yummy!

I like to serve my gnocchi with a basic Napolitana sauce which takes around 25 minutes to cook and only requires a couple of easy ingredients. Topped with lashings of freshly grated parmesan, this yummy meal is delicious and not too bad for you either!

You will need... (4 serves)
250gr fresh ricotta
1/4 cup of frozen spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out and chopped relatively finely
2 Tbs freshly grated parmesan
1 egg
1/2 cup plain flour
small pinch salt & freshly ground black pepper
extra flour for rolling

For the Napoli
2 tins of diced Italian tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs herbs of your choice- either basil*, parsley, oregano (fresh is better but if you only have dried that's fine)
pinch salt and fresh pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

Method...
  1. Start your Napoli sauce by heating the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and sweat on a low heat until fragrant (do not brown as this gives the garlic a bitter, acrid taste).
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes and 1/2 a cup of water, bring to the boil, season with salt, pepper & sugar and add herbs, then turn down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Put a large pot of water on to boil, prepare a cold water bath** to transfer the cooked gnocchi to so they don't overcook as you will be cooking them in batches.
  4. To make the gnocchi, mix the ricotta, spinach, parmesan and egg together with the seasoning. Once will combined, add in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together as a sticky dough. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of flour to the mix to help bring it together, but don't be tempted to keep adding flour if the dough is quite sticky or soft as if you continue to add flour, once the gnocchi is cooked it will end up being extremely dense and doughy, where you want them light and pillowy.
  5. Place a decent amount of flour onto the bench top, flour your hands well. Divide the dough into two portions and carefully roll each half into long 1.5 inch thick logs. If the dough is quite hard to manage, add more flour to the bench, or divide into smaller portions for shorter logs.
  6. Flour the blade of a sharp knife and cut the logs into 1.5 inch lengths. Roll into little balls and make a small indentation in the centre of each gnocchi with your thumb (this acts as a little spoon to hold all the yummy sauce on the gnocchi). 
  7. Once you have rolled your gnocchi, transfer about 10-15 to the boiling water. Unlike potato gnocchi, just because they have risen to the top of the boiling water, does not mean they are cooked. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes, to cook through (remove one and test if you are unsure and adjust cooking time for the remaining batches). Transfer the cooked gnocchi to the cold water bath using a slotted spoon and repeat the same way with the rest of the batch.
  8. Once all your gnocchi is cooked, strain using a colander*** and transfer to the cooked Napolitana sauce. Bring to a light simmer for 5 minutes to heat through the gnocchi. Divide among 4 bowls and top with parmesan to serve.
*if you are using fresh basil, place a stalk or two into the sauce as it simmers to impart a yummy fresh basil flavour

**A cold water bath is just a large bowl or deep tray, filled with cold water and ice.

*** if not using immediately, drizzle with vegetable oil and refrigerate or freeze for future eating

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