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Making gnocchi at home is easy with this recipe. You’re basically mixing chopped spinach with ricotta cheese, flour, parmesan, and egg yolks. And while it takes some hands-on time, it’s fairly simple to make. The dough comes together in no time. Once you’ve formed the dough, then it’s time to shape the gnocchi. The dough is a bit sticky and may be hard to work with, but that’s the only hard part about this recipe. When it comes to forming the gnocchi, I keep it very simple. I like to roll the gnocchi dough into a long rope and then just cut that rope into pieces. And that’s it. No fancy tools, no fancy rolling method. Just keep it simple.
They are more like light dumplings than stodgy potato gnocchi. Soft pillows–delicate yet so easy to make. It’s pretty no fuss, and I declare it the best gnocchi recipe.
Every bite is layered with delicious flavours—the perfect way to spend a relaxing night in the kitchen with family and friends. Serve as a first course or for a special weekend lunch. Kind of fancy, kind of not, but definitely SO GOOD!
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Wash, chop and blanch your spinach
- 400 g Spinach - fresh chopped - or 200g/7oz frozen chopped spinach
Sauté the spinach
Make the gnocchi dough
- Parmesan cheese
- Basil - optional
- Sage - optional
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Wash, chop and blanch your spinach
- Wash your spinach leaves to remove the superficial dirt.
- If you prefer to remove the stems from your spinach, do so at this time. Cut them off with a small, sharp knife.
- Chop dried spinach using a food processor or a small, sharp knife.
- Boil the kettle. If you’d like, you can add a tablespoon of salt to your water. While this is not required, it helps season the spinach and helps it retain nutrients.
- Place the spinach in a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Use a slotted spoon to submerge the spinach in the boiling water. Once you drop in your spinach, set a timer for 30 seconds. Note: Avoid overcooking spinach. The spinach is ready when it turns a bright green colour. If spinach is cooked too long, it turns a darker shade of green.
- As your water comes to a boil, fill a large bowl with ice cubes. Then, cover the ice cubes with cold water from your sink. Set your bowl next to your stovetop so you can easily transfer your spinach once it boils.
- Scoop up your spinach using a slotted spoon and immediately dunk the spinach into the ice water. Do this as soon as you remove it from the boiling water for best results. Once the spinach is in the ice water, press down on the leaves with your spoon, so they are totally submerged. The ice water stops the cooking process, so your spinach stays tender and retains its nutrients.
- After about 30-60 seconds, scoop up your spinach with a slotted spoon, and place the leaves in a strainer.
- Alternatively, pour the ice water and spinach directly into the strainer. If you do this, scoop out the ice from the strainer using a spoon or your fingers.
- Push down on the spinach gently with your spoon to remove excess water.
- Before mixing the other ingredients, be sure the spinach is very well-drained. Spinach should be dry before you begin cooking. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water.
- To get rid of as much water as possible, grab the spinach in your hands and gently squeeze the leaves. You can also use a potato ricer if you have one to squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach. Or drain in a sieve, pushing out as much water as you can, then cool. Tip onto a paper towel and squeeze over a sink to get as much water out as possible. Do this for all of your spinach. Don’t skip this step –dry spinach is vital to the success of the gnocchi. If you don’t get rid of the excess water, your recipe can wind up too wet.
Sauté the spinach
- Finely chop the onion and, in a pan with olive oil, sauté the onion until soft and translucent but not browned. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add the spinach, cook for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
- Allow the spinach to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Make the gnocchi dough
- Ensure that the ricotta crumbles into fine pieces and mixes properly with the spinach.
- Place the spinach, ricotta, flour, Corn starch, egg yolk, parmesan cheese, parsley, and a generous grating of nutmeg into a large bowl and stir very thoroughly until everything is completely mixed—season with salt and pepper to taste.
- You can alternatively add all the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until completely blended. They will turn out just like pale green restaurant spinach gnocchi. However, I like them better when mixed by hand - they are a bit more toothsome and rustic.
Roll dough out into long ropes, cut into pieces
- Put the dough out on a lightly floured, smooth, clean surface. Knead lightly for about a minute, adding additional flour if the dough sticks too easily to the board or your hands.
- At this point, if you wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 30 minutes to an hour, it will be easier to roll out.
- When the dough is smooth, pliable, and still just a little bit sticky, divide it into 4 portions.
- Flour your hands lightly. Using both hands, and a light touch, roll the dough out with a back-and-forth motion, starting at the center and stretching the dough out to form a roll.
- A heavy touch will compress the dough, but you do need enough pressure to create a rope of dough. You want a light touch, gently stretching the dough outwards as you roll it into shape.
- The trick is to stretch the dough sideways as you are rolling. Once the segment you are working on gets about a foot/30cm long, you may find it easier to cut it in half and then start working on that smaller segment.
- Cut each roll into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces.
- Note: You can test the first one by simmering it in the boiling water until it floats. If it holds together, there is enough flour in the mixture; if not, you may need to add a little more. Also, taste to see if the mixture needs more salt, pepper or nutmeg. Once you’ve made any adjustments, continue making the gnocchi with the remaining mixture.
Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured cookie sheet
- At this point, they can be cooked or kept in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Cook the gnocchi in boiling water
- Fill a large wide pot halfway with well-salted (1 teaspoon of salt for every litre/quart of water) water and bring it to a boil.
- Roll each gnocchi in the flour again to fully coat it (do not shake off excess flour); this helps keep them intact during cooking.
- Reduce the heat to medium and gently drop the gnocchi in the water, one by one. Try to do this in a way that the gnocchi are not falling in on top of each other, but rest on the bottom of the pan in a single layer.
- They will sink to the bottom, as the gnocchi cooks, they will rise to the surface of the water after a couple of minutes. Use a slotted spoon and drain it before placing them in a serving bowl.
- Sometimes the gnocchi can stick a little at the bottom. If you suspect this, nudge them a little to unstick them. You can add a few more to the pan as you remove some gnocchi.
- Keep warm while you cook the rest.
- Serve with warm Pinçage (Mirepoix with tomato paste) sauce.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garnish with basil or sage leaves and serve.
Blanching Spinach in the MicrowaveUse a microwave-safe bowl (glass, plastic, or ceramic container), and put washed spinach inside. Then, pour in water until the spinach is covered. Place the container inside your microwave, and select a high heat setting. After 2 minutes, remove your spinach from the microwave. Use caution when removing the spinach as the container may be very hot. Fill a bowl up with ice as the spinach cooks and cover the ice in cold water. Then, dump your spinach into the ice water after it finishes cooking. This helps preserve the bright green colour of your fresh spinach and maximize the spinach flavour and nutrient content. Then, dump the contents of your container into a strainer. Pour out the water as you place your spinach inside. You can also gently squeeze the spinach while it is in the strainer to get rid of more moisture.
Spinach – frozen or fresh?I prefer it fresh, but you can use frozen for convenience. Vegetables blanched before frozen retain significantly more of their nutrients than vegetables frozen without blanching. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water before using. For 500g/16oz Spinach of fresh chopped, use 250g/8oz of frozen chopped spinach.
Refrigerate your blanched spinach in an airtight container for 3-4 daysIf you want to store your spinach temporarily, place it in an airtight container. Then, refrigerate the spinach for 3-4 days.
Freeze your blanched spinach to keep it for up to 1 yearIf you want to freeze your spinach, place it into a large freezer bag, and squeeze out any air. Then, stick it in the freezer. Plan to use your spinach within 10-12 months. To cook with your frozen spinach, remove it from the freezer and thaw it for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
What type of Ricotta?I use Ricotta di campagna. As with all Italian dishes, it's important to use high-quality ingredients for the best results. Be sure to use a high-quality, creamy one.
Parmesan - store-bought or freshly grated?Store-bought finely shredded or grated is fine, or grate your own. But be sure to use it. It adds extra savouriness and seasoning to the mixing.
Should I add nutmeg?Nutmeg is optional, but it’s a lovely touch. I use it in all my spinach ricotta fillings.
Make-Ahead TipsOnce shaped, the gnocchi can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days or so or frozen for 4 months. Boil just before you're ready to eat and toss with sauce.
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