Spinach Gnocchi with Shaved Ricotta Salata
When I saw this recipe in my Food and Wine magazine, I wanted to make it right away. The title of the column, “Best New Chef: Most Wanted Recipes”, made it hard to resist, and the picture of the finished VEGETARIAN dish was gorgeous. I bought all of the ingredients. Then I pulled up the recipe in my kitchen on FoodandWine.com and saw that the comments regarding this dish stated that the recipe was flawed and inaccurate. I had already been scarred in the past making waterlogged (gummy) potato gnocchi, and I didn’t want to put myself through another frustrating experience. However, despite the comments, my husband encouraged me to make this dish anyway- and I really wanted to try it. So I approached this recipe with trepidation.
The primary issue with the original recipe is that it calls for 2.5 pounds of fresh spinach- the comments on the Food and Wine website stated that this resulted in too much spinach puree, and dough that wouldn’t hold together. I decided that this was because 2.5 pounds of bagged spinach was used, and I was using 2.5 pounds of fresh spinach which when stemmed weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. (I weighed it as I was being much more thorough than usual!) After blanching the spinach, I squeezed it dry in a potato ricer – my secret weapon. I didn’t want waterlogged gnocchi again! The end result was 1 1/2 cups of spinach puree– only 1 cup is used in the gnocchi. (I will just eat or reuse the leftover spinach puree -yum.) When I make this dish again in the future, I will use 2 pounds of fresh spinach (with stems).
I was also apprehensive to alter the shape of each gnocchi for fear that they would disassemble. The dough is very sticky and wet– it is not rolled into a log, but scooped into a mound of flour. So, I kept my “scoops”- they looked like spinach meatballs. 🙂
This gnocchi is very flavorful– much more than a potato or ricotta gnocchi. They were very tender and delicious. Completely worth all of the stress. The use of three cheeses and brown butter give it a complex and FABULOUS taste. I know why this is a “Most Wanted Recipe”! This recipe was contributed to Food and Wine by Mark Vetri of Vetri Ristorante in Philadelphia. My adaptations are incorporated below. This dish would be a lovely -and fancy- appetizer as well.
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
- SERVINGS: 4 as a main dish, 6+ as an appetizer
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed (not bagged spinach)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese (1 ounce)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plain, dry, fine bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and shaved ricotta salata, for serving
- Soak spinach to wash throughly. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the spinach until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain with a bamboo strainer (spider) into a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Cool the spinach by placing the colander into a large bowl of ice water, then drain and squeeze dry. Squeezing out all excess water by using a potato ricer is a great method. Wipe out the pot, fill with water and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Meanwhile, transfer the spinach to a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid and puree until very smooth. You should have 1 cup of puree; add additional cooking liquid if needed.
- Scrape the spinach puree into a large bowl and mix in the grated Grana Padano cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of the flour to form a soft dough.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of flour in a pie plate and dust a large rimmed baking sheet with flour. Place dough into the flour using a 1-inch ice cream scoop. Gently roll the gnocchi dough into 1-inch balls. Carefully roll the gnocchi in the flour, shake off the excess and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Add salt to the simmering water. Add half of the gnocchi to the pot and cook until they rise to the surface, then simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes (about 5 minutes total cooking time). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a platter. Cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
- In a skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Spoon the brown butter over the gnocchi. Top with Parmigiano and ricotta salata (I used a serrated peeler to “shave” it) and serve.