These little gems are called ricotta spinach gnocchi, or ravioli gnudi as they resemble the filling often used to stuff ravioli. This recipe was adapted from Davina Cucina’s (otherwise known as Judy Witts Francini) cookbook called Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen. The changes I made to the recipe create gnocchi that are similar to ones I have personally made for years. I decreased the amount of spinach, allowing the ricotta to be the star, added extra parmesan cheese, and I decreased the eggs from three to two. Judy suggests topping these delicate pillows with butter and cheese, or a walnut sauce. I personally prefer a fresh tasting tomato sauce so topped my gnocchi with my quick tomato sauce.
As with all gnocchi or dumplings, the less you handle them the more delicate and tender they will be but you do need to use your hands to form these gnocchi to develop a touch for the right consistency. Another important trick to making perfect gnocchi is the drain your spinach extremely well. I press the cooked spinach in a sieve, chop it finely, and the drain it once more. If your ricotta is wet you might drain it also by placing it in a sieve over a bowl and setting it in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Judy also suggests that you always test with a single ravioli to make certain they don’t fall apart in the boiling water, which is a great tip for anyone who is new to making ravioli gnudi or gnocchi. I have found over the years that by rolling the gnocchi first in semolina flour, and then letting them sit uncovered on a tray in the refrigerator overnight helps the dumplings to keep their shape by developing a thin skin that holds the ingredients together well when you cook them.
Deborah Mele Revised 2019
- 1 (9 Ounce Bag) Baby Spinach
- 12 Ounces Full Fat Ricotta
- 2 Eggs
- 1-1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour (Plus Additional For Shaping)
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Semolina Flour
For The Tomato Sauce:
- 1 (28 Ounce) Can Imported Diced Italian Tomatoes (Or 1 (26.5 Ounce) Box Pomi Brand Chopped Tomatoes)
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Decrease To 1 Tablespoon If Wanting To Make A Lower Fat Version)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Basil
- Dash Of Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- To make the gnocchi, first cook spinach by steaming or in the microwave.
- Drain and squeeze out all excess water. (It is important to get out as much water as possible)
- Chop finely, and then drain once more.
- Place the spinach, ricotta, eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and flour into a mixing bowl, and mix together well.
- Place a cup and a half of semolina flour and place on a baking sheet.
- Form the dumplings by using floured hands, lightly rolling the gnocchi to coat in the semolina flour.
- Place the dumplings in the refrigerator overnight on an uncovered tray.
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and add the garlic.
- As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, but before it takes on color, add the tomatoes.
- Turn the heat to high, and as soon as the sauce begins to bubble, turn back down to medium low.
- Season with salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if you are using them, and add the basil.
- Cook for another minute of two and keep warm while you make the dumplings.
- Bring to boil large pot of salted water.
- Drop dumplings into boiling water, then lower to a simmer.
- When the dumplings float to the top, they are done.
- Remove with slotted spoon or ladle and return to the pot.
- Toss gently with the tomato sauce, and serve with parmesan cheese.