Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gnocchi Verdi (Spinach Dumplings)

The little one is already on her morning nap so I'm taking the opportunity to share another great Italian family recipe, Gnocchi Verdi. My husband's Italian grandmother makes this special dish and to her it's a very simple dish ... a little of this ... a little of that and there you go. But, it's taken me several trial and errors to get this one right. This is a great vegetarian dish. I have not made this in a while, I just realized I had a great picture from the last time I made it.

Gnocchi Verdi

1 kg. fresh spinach (2 lbs)
250 g. ricotta (1/2 lb)
1 egg
1/2 c. grated parmesan
3 T. flour
butter, melted

Cook the spinach in salted water. Drain and allow to cool. Take a small amount of spinach in your hand and squeeze out the excess water. Do this with the whole batch of spinach. This is a very important step. It is crucial to remove as much of the water as possible from the spinach ... you want the spinach very dry.

If your ricotta is very wet you will also need to drain it in cheescloth in the sink. Sometimes skim milk ricotta is more runny than regular ricotta I have found.

In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly. In a large bowl combine the spinach and ricotta and season with salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt as you will be adding parmesan as well). Mix in the beaten egg and then add the parmesan. Add 1-2 T. flour as much as the mixture will absorb. Chill the ingredients in the fridge for 1/2 hour.

In a large pasta pot (or dutch oven) boil plenty of water as if you were making pasta. I have been told that it is better to have a tall pasta pot when making gnocchi because the gnocchi has the longest time to cook as it floats it's way to the top. I don't have one of these tall pasta/asparagus pots so I can't verify this. After it comes to a boil, salt the water. With the help of a tablespoon make round dumplings from the spinach mixture. Roll lightly in the remaining 1-2 T. flour. Don't press too hard on the dumplings, you want them to remain light and airy. Gently add the dumplings to the boiling water, one or two at a time. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface of the pot (usually 1-2 minutes of cooking time). Place them in a casserole dish with melted butter so there is enough room for 1 single layer of gnocchi. After all the gnocchi are done cooking, toss with the melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan and serve.


wirrek said...

I do love gnocchi, but always felt like that was one of those things I didn't want to try making, but this one doesn't sound too bad. Hey, this is something I ask all Italians, do you break your spagetti in half when you cook it? I just find it doesn't stick together as much if I do that, but maybe that is really UNCOOL.

Robin said...

I certainly wouldn't break any pasta in front of an Italian and for heavens sake don't add oil to the water ... who knows, that could be grounds for a public stoning in Italy. You may not be using enough water or it may be the type of pasta you are using. Don't get the kind with a shiny coat you want the pasta to have a floury, matte finish on it. Whenever I ask an Italian what brands of dried pasta they buy there are only 2 answers 1.) De Cecco and 2.) Barilla. This is what I buy and my spaghetti doesn't stick. Also make sure the water is boiling rapidly before adding the pasta, then add plenty of salt to the water, throw in your pasta and stir and bring it back to a boil as quickly as possible. Also, use a few spoons of the pasta cooking water to toss with the pasta and sauce of your choice. And, keep me posted if that improves your spaghetti!