Spinach and ricotta gnocchi

Matthew Fort shows that home made gnocchi can be feather light, even when oven baked with a rich tomato sauce
By Matthew Fort
Spinach and ricotta gnocchi
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes plus one hour chilling time
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

For the gnocchi

  • 350 g frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh spinach weighed when cooked, and drained then dried off in a heavy-based saucepan over a low-medium heat to remove as much moisture as possible
  • 700 g ricotta cheese
  • 100 g parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
  • large pinch nutmeg
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp plain flour

For the tomato sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • handful basil
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml tomato passata

Method

1. For the gnocchi: tip the spinach onto a board and chop finely. Place the ricotta in a large bowl and beat until fairly smooth. Add the spinach to the ricotta along with the parmesan, nutmeg, salt, black pepper and two of the eggs. Mix thoroughly - if the consistency is too dry, add all or part of the third egg, but do not get the mixture too wet or it will be difficult to handle.

2. Cover the mixture and put into the fridge for at least an hour.

3. For the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the onion, garlic and basil leaves. Cover the pan and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

4. Add the tomatoes, passata and seasoning to taste. Stir well then cover and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. To form the gnocchi, cover a large plate or tray with a good layer of flour. Drop a dessertspoon of the gnocchi mixture onto the tray and gently roll it into a ball shape until you can pick it up with floured hands. Repeat until you have used all of the gnocchi mixture to make about 32 gnocchi balls and then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until you need them.

6. To cook the gnocchi, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bring a large wide pan of water to a gentle boil on top of the stove, then drop 6-7 gnocchi balls into the water. Wait until the balls float to the surface, then let them cook for a further 30 seconds before scooping them out with a slotted spoon and leaving them to drain. Keep the gnocchi warm while you cook the remainder.

7. When all the gnocchi are cooked, transfer them in a single layer to a baking dish. Reheat the sauce, pour over the gnocchi and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes or until hot.

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