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Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi

November 13, 2009
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Gnocchi cooked

Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi

As with any challenge, it’s nice to start with something familiar. For my second meal in the 104-meal Challenge, I grabbed “From Biba’s Italian Kitchen by Biba Caggiano (1995 Hearst Books). Throughout the early 1990’s, I watched Cooking with Biba on cable with my daughters Alexandra and Helen. Together we cooked: Me at the counter and Alex and Helen at the Fisher Price kitchen, complete with an aprons and child-sized cookware.

Bib frequently said on her shows that pasta is easy to make. It’s just flour and eggs. It’s inexpensive. So I looked for something easy. It was Tuesday after all. With an armful of fresh spinach from the farm market I opted to try her Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi with Porcini Mushrooms and Tomatoes recipe. Remember creative adaptation is allowed in this Challenge and I needed to use up 5 cups of cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator that were a few days from knocking on the door and asking to be let out.  The fun part of making this dish was rolling it out on my new granite countertops, courtesy of J.S. Hovnanian & Sons and watching my 4-year-old son scold me for making a mess.  This is the kind of dish that can be mixed and rolled the night before.

BASIC SPINACH-RICOTTA GNOCCHI (SERVES 4-6)

1 lb ricotta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1-11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/3 a cup of fresh spinach mixed into 1 beaten egg.

Gnocchi dough

Pile of dough

In a large bowl combined all the ingredients except 1/2 cup pf flour. Put the mixture onto a wooden board and knead it lightly for 2 to 3 minutes, adding a bit of flour if the dough sticks heavily to your hands. When the dough is soft and pliable and just a bit sticky divide it into several pieces of equal size. I always found it easier to work in small bunches and prefer to make about 6 pieces.

Flour your hands lightly. Using both hands roll out each piece of dough with a light back and forth motion into a roll about the thickness of your index finger. Cut each piece into 1-inch pieces.

Hold a fork with its tines against a work board, the curved part facing away from you. Press each piece of dough upward along the curved side of the fork with your finger. Let the gnocchi fall back onto the work board.  Place the gnocchi onto a lightly floured sheet or platter. They can keep overnight in the refrigerator.   Gnocchi chopped

THE SAUCE

4 ripe plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 2 cups of lukewarm water for 20 minutes

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Drain the mushrooms and reserve the soaking water. Rinse mushrooms well under cold water and chop them roughly. Lay on towels to get ride of the sandy deposits.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute until it begins to color. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of reserved mushroom soaking water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring, until the juices in the pan have thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter, if using. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tbs of salt and the gnocchi. Cook uncovered over high heat until the gnocchi rise to the surface of the water, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the gnocchi with a large slotted spoon and drain off the excess water. Add to the sauce in skillet. Add Parmigiano and heat slightly.

My adaptation: My men aren’t big mushroom lovers, so I skipped it today. I had way too many cherry tomatoes to use. Instead, I sautéed them into the remaining ingredients. I had another cup of fresh spinach remaining and tossed it into the sauce. Man, did we push this dish back. How fast can you say G.O.N.E?

I realized that this planning process is really going to take more planning than I anticipated. This is meal # 2 and already I realized that I should have started a few steps the night before. In hindsight, I wish I had started the dish either the night before or in the morning. Only three people were eating this dish: so I could have cut the recipe in half. The rolling and chopping doesn’t take a lot of time of, but when it’s 6:30 p.m. and you’re in a hurry to feed the family, rushing through this process produces gnocchi that’s rolled too thick and chopped into too large a piece. (See photos).  At least I knew what I was cooking.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 13, 2009 10:26 pm

    Wondering if I could make this with a gluten free flour. It looks amazing!

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