I tasted a similar gnocchi dish at a restaurant here in Toronto many years ago and loved the simplicity of meltingly tender ricotta gnocchi topped with just sauteed mushrooms and spinach in a little butter, and then served with some shaved pecorino cheese on top.
When I went to make the dish myself at home, I decided to bump up the mushroom flavor by using powdered dried porcini mushrooms in the actual gnocchi itself. Dried porcini have an intense mushroom flavor but the ricotta tempers it just enough so that the dried porcini simply add another layer of mushroom flavor to this dish without overwhelming it.
You can buy powdered porcini at some specialty or gourmet stores, but I find it just as simple to grind it myself in my food processor. The added powdered porcini does act like a starch though, so you should not need as much flour as you would in a basic ricotta gnocchi recipe. I prefer making ricotta over potato gnocchi hands down because they are so quick and easy to prepare.
Cooks Tip: The secret to making these gnocchi is to dry the ingredients as much as you can before using. I let my ricotta drain of excess water by placing it in a strainer over a bowl and leaving it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.
- 1 Pound Ricotta
- 1 Cup of Flour (Plus Extra For Shaping))
- 1 Extra Large Egg
- 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Ounce Powdered Dried Porcini Mushrooms (See Above)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 6 Ounces Portobello Mushrooms
- 6 Ounces Cremini Mushrooms
- 5 to 6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter Plus Additional 2 Tablespoons Butter
- To Be Used At End
- Salt & Pepper
- Shaved Pecorino Cheese
- In a bowl, place the ricotta, grated cheese, powdered porcini, egg, and salt.
- Add 3/4 cup of the flour and mix briefly.
- Add only as much more flour as you need to create a workable dough. (Be careful not to overwork the dough.)
- Divide the dough into fist size pieces, and roll into long logs as thick as your thumb on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut into 1 1/2 inch crosswise slices and gently place on a lightly floured baking sheet.
- Continue with the rest of the dough in this manner.
- If not using immediately, place in the refrigerator.
- To make the topping, slice the mushrooms, then cut into pieces no larger than 2 inches.
- Once cooked, you do not want the mushroom piecers to be larger than the gnocchi.
- Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until tender and brown, then remove from the heat.
- When you place the gnocchi into the boiling water, reheat the the mushrooms and add the additional 2 tablespoons of butter and the spinach.
- Stir just until the spinach has wilted, and season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
- To cook the gnocchi, drop into lightly salted water and remove as soon as they float to the top, after 1 or 2 minutes.
- Place in a warmed bowl, top with your mushroom sauce, and gently mix.
- Serve in individual bowls with shaved pecorino cheese on top.