Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

When I made the stuffed zucchini flowers over the weekend, I bought a large tub of ricotta at the deli. Huge. Gigantic. Suffice to say I used very little of the bathtub sized portion I purchased and was left with a lot of... leftovers.

So I searched through my cookbooks to find a dish that would use up some of the remaining ricotta - one that wasn't a cheesecake! I wanted something savory and warming. I referred to the ubiquitous Cooks Companion for a few suggestions and decided to make a spinach and ricotta gnocchi. It sounded relatively simple and light. It was, and it was also delicious.

The recipe is very easy to follow and makes a good sized main course for 2 people. Stephanie Alexander suggests serving it with a burnt butter and sage sauce but I served it with a heartier tomato, mushroom, olive and bacon ragout, perfect for the cold nights we are experiencing at the moment. The heartiness of the sauce complements the delicacy of the dumplings beautifully (and means that husbands get all important meat in their dinner).

Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

275g ricotta
400g cooked, very well drained spinach (about one bunch, raw)
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
knob of butter

Drain ricotta in a colander for several hours (I omitted this stem as the ricotta I had was already very firm. This step would be necessary if you had softer ricotta). Press ricotta through a sieve into a bowl and mix in spinach, parmesan, flour, eggs and seasonings thoroughly. Taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate mixture for a few hours or overnight, covered.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and set a large pan of water on to boil. Dust a board or your bench with flour and using a teaspoon as a guide, shape the ricotta mixture into small balls (the mix I had made 20 dumplings). When the gnocchi are ready, sift a small amount of flour over the dumplings. Grease a gratin dish with the butter and set in oven to keep warm.

Drop half of the gnocchi into the water to boil allowing plenty of room and ensuring the water keeps simmering. When the gnocchi rise to the top they are done (about 5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon to the gratin dish and repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked.

Stephanie suggests serving these with a brown butter and sage sauce:

Crisp 12 fresh sage leaves in 40g butter in a hot frying pan, then remove. Add an additional 40g butter until golden brown and smelling nutty. Stop it cooking by plunging the base of the pan into cold water. Drop in sage leaves and pout sauce over dumplings. Serve at once with extra parmesan.

Miss Kitty's mushroom, bacon and olive ragout

1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
150g bacon rashers, sliced
400g mushrooms, sliced
100g pitted kalamata olives
100ml red wine
2 tins of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons parsley

Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the bacon and fry until golden then add the mushrooms and cook until wilted properly. Add olives and stir through for 2-3 minutes.

Deglaze pan with red wine and reduce until alcohol has evaporated. Add the tomatoes to the pan, and bring to a simmer, stirring, adding half a tin of water to the sauce. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce is thick and dark. Serve over the spinach and ricotta dumplings, sprinkling with parsley.

Feeds 2 hearty diners with leftovers. Serve extra parmesan on the size for extra kick.




Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh ricotta is one of my favourite gnocchis. It's so light and it's so quick (compared to baking potatoes etc). Great job! :)

Mel said...

Kitty, I am loving all of the cooking you have been doing lately! I've never tried to make my own gnocchi but since you've made it sound so easy (and seemingly delicious), I will have to give it a go.

Kiki Chaos said...

Ooooh, that sounds amazing! I love the sound of your ragout too. I am definitely going to try this. Sounds perfect for a cold winter's night.