I’m a big fan of ricotta gnocchi but I find potato gnocchi mildly terrifying. It’s far too likely that you end up making little balls of rubber whereas ricotta gnocchi is more forgiving. I won’t say it’s a saint but it’s no Clint Eastwood (yep, pathetic movie reference. Don’t even bother, it’s not worth the effort of trying to nut it out).
I like the addition of spinach and herbs here because I just like veg. I like finding opportunities to add more veg whereever I can, because yay health! Of course, in this instance I serve it with a brown butter & sage sauce which almost entirely defeats the purpose but come on, butter and sage… who doesn’t want to make that combo of flavours your illicit lover?
This is a photo of the uncooked gnocchi. Sadly I neglected to take a pic of the glorious completed dish because the newest small human in our family demanded food at that exact moment; thus husband served it all up for me while my hands and boobs were otherwise occupied.
I like to serve the gnocchi with some roasted cherry tomatoes tussled generously on top (wack them in the oven on 180 for 15 minutes with a little olive oil and s&p), and some fresh rocket. The latter, my toddler likes to pluck off his plate and drop onto the floor. Sigh.
- 200g baby spinach, washed
- good handful of parsley (leaves only, yes I know it’s a pain in the arse, you don’t have to be a nazi about it but do try as much as you can be bothered)
- 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 140g ricotta (you won’t regret making this the day before – creamy and delicious)
- 50-100g plain flour (I’ll explain below)
- 2 large eggs
- 100g parmesan/pecorino, plus some for serving
- fresh nutmeg (or ground nutmeg if that’s what you’ve got)
- salt & pepper
- 100g salted butter
- 50g fresh sage, leaves only
- small frypan
- mixing bowl
- dinner plates (they really need to be kept warm in the oven, the world won’t end if they are cold but you will be eating tepid gnocchi)
- Boil your kettle
- Into a mixing bowl, place the spinach and parsley leaves and pour plenty of boiling water on top
- Wilt the greens for at least 2 minutes
- Squeeze the bejesus out of those greens. You want them as dry as humanly possible. The wetter they are, the more flour you will have to use later and the more flour you have to use, the more gluey your gnocchi will get. Squeeze them, punch them, wrap them in cheesecloth and squeeze them some more. If you have a lettuce spinner thingo, give it a whirl.
- Set the greens aside for use later.
- Chop the parmesan into chunks for grating
- Grate parmesan 10 secs / speed 9
- Set aside for use later
- Into the bowl place the garlic, spinach and parsley then chop finely 20 secs / speed 7
- Scrape down the bowl and chop again 5 secs / speed 9. Stop there or repeat until you’re happy that its fine enough.
- Drop in the butterfly
- Add the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper and a generous amount of nutmeg to the bowl
- Now is also the time to add the flour. Start with the smallest amount possible ie 50g and mix 10 secs / speed 3 /
- Wet your hands and see if you can form a walnut by rolling a small amount of the mixture in your hands. If not add a bit more flour and mix again. Repeat until you are able to get that tasty walnut to hold it’s shape. The idea here is to use as little flour as you can get away with. It is a wet sticky mixture but having wet hands will help you keep it together.
- Place your ricotta walnuts on a plate and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Just before you are ready to eat (yes this must be eaten immediately after cooking!) it’s time to make the sauce.
- Have your frypan at the ready with the salted butter – don’t turn the pan on, just have it ready to be turned on. Have your sage on the bench next to the pan ready to be chucked in.
- Get your saucepan filled with water and a dash of salt and bring to the boil.
- Get your gnocchi out of the fridge and drop them into the boiling water – not all at once because you want to give them room to move and you don’t want the temp of the water to drop so much that it stops boiling. Batches! They will drop to the bottom of the pan at first. When they float they are moments away from done – just give them another 30 seconds to a minute depending on how much flour you had to use. Remove them with a slotted spoon to your dinner plates.
- As you do the last batch, turn the heat on your frypan – medium heat.
- Let the butter foam and turn golden – ever so slightly bordering on golden-brown
- Quickly drop your sage leaves into the butter so they can crisp up – this takes seconds! Don’t take your eyes off it as it will all go to shit if you do.
- Turn off the heat.
- If you are adding the roasted cherry tomatoes and rocket, do it now.
- Time to drizzle, ok ok, POUR that buttery goodness all over your gnocchi. Let them swim free like the dolphins!
- Shave some parmesan over the top
- Serve, and never speak of your excessive butter consumption to others as they will only shame you.