Gnocchi di spinaci e ricotta
A classic of Italian cooking, spinach and ricotta gnocchi bear scant resemblance to the better-known potato gnocchi. Lighter and prettier and easier to make, they have a fabulous flavour and pretensions to healthiness, what with all that spinach.
For the gnocchi
For the sauce
- freshly grated parmesan, or similar vegetarian hard cheese
For the gnocchi, place the thawed frozen spinach or cooked fresh spinach into a sieve to drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then weigh the spinach - you should have 250g/9oz of spinach after all the water has been squeezed out. Chop it up finely.
Place the ricotta into a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the spinach, parmesan, flour, eggs and plenty of nutmeg. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well with your hands, making sure it is evenly blended. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or more before moving on to the next step.
For the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and carrot slowly until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, caster sugar and the bouquet garni, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir. Leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from catching on the bottom, even adding a splash of water if necessary. Remove from the heat, remove the bouquet garni and allow to cool slightly.
Place the tomato mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth, then set aside.
Dredge a large plate with plenty of flour. Take dessertspoons of the chilled ricotta mixture, roll into neat balls, then roll in the flour. Place on a floured tray and set aside until needed.
Shortly before you intend to eat the gnocchi, bring a wide, shallow pan of water to the boil, then turn the heat down to a more gentle simmer. Carefully add your gnocchi to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd, and poach for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, gently reheat the tomato sauce.
When the gnocchi are cooked, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place onto warmed plates, or into one large shallow serving dish, and pour over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with grated parmesan.