Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi with Fresh Tomato Sauce is one of those dishes that transports me back to my childhood. My grandmother would make chicken and dumplings for me when I was very young and I have a lingering soft spot for any type of dumpling all these years later.
These gnocchi are like soft little pillows that are light and tasty and a great alternative to pasta for a change of pace. They are filled with ricotta, spinach, eggs and flour then hand rolled into little oval balls. Therefore, the process takes a bit longer than most of my other recipes, and definitely more time than popping in dry pasta but definitely worth the additional time and effort.
The gnocchi can simply be topped with melted butter and parmesan cheese. On the other hand, I prefer the fresh tomato sauce because it compliments the gnocchi and brightens up the flavors. As far as I’m concerned, it is a perfect and complete lunch all on its own.
One of the oldest foods in Italy, gnocchi is popular throughout the country. They can be made from a variety of ingredients which varies depending on the region. Chestnuts, semolina, pumpkin or potato are all used in various gnocchi recipes. However this version is popular in the Tuscan region where fresh ricotta is in abundance.
I have labeled this recipe as adventurous but other than rolling the gnocchi which takes about 15 minutes, it is a fairly easy recipe to put together. The gnocchi can be made in the morning and refrigerated then cooked along with the sauce just prior to serving.
A light Italian-inspired lunch.
- 1 large package ready to use spinach (12 ounces)
- 2-cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes
- 1/2 cup basil cut into a chiffonade (thin ribbons)
- Cook spinach in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool then squeeze out liquid then chop finely.
- Place spinach, ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup flour, into a large bowl and mix. Add egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to combine into a sticky dough.
- Cover a working surface and a large baking sheet with flour. Roll out 1/4-1/2 cup of dough into a 1 inch thick rope. Cut into 1 inch pieces and roll in your hand into a small oval shape. Transfer to the baking sheet and roll in flour so it is coated. Repeat with remainder of the dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 2 teaspoons of salt.
- Place gnocchi into water (do not crowd). Gnocchi will drop to the bottom of the pan. Once they pop to the top of the water, cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Cook remainder of the gnocchi.
- Heat up a large skillet with olive oil, when hot add onions and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and cook until bubbling, reduce heat and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.
- When sauce is done, add basil and stir.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place tomato sauce on the bottom of a shallow pasta bowl, place 6-8 gnocchi on top, then grate parmesan on top.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: dumplings, gnocchi, ricotta, spinach, tomato sauce, fresh tomato sauce