These hearty yet fluffy spinach ricotta gnocchi are packed with vitamin-rich spinach, and creamy ricotta, seasoned with Parmesan cheese and a hint of earthy nutmeg. These gnocchi are light yet satisfying, crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside.
This is hands-down the simplest gnocchi recipe for beginners…and much tastier than regular gnocchi (at least, my family thinks so!). Making gnocchi is not as difficult as you may think…a bit time consuming yes, but well-worth the results!
This recipe is ideal for picky eaters, that is, unless your child freaks out at anything that is green (IF your child doesn’t mind the colour you could always tell them it’s pesto!). It’s also a tasty way to incorporate vitamin-packed greens into a family meal.
There are basically 3 steps to the process; blend all the ingredients in a food processor, shape the gnocchi then choose your preferred method of cooking. Easy peasy, right? ;-)
(Yields about 60 gnocchi)
*The quantity may seem like a lot but one person can eat at least 8-10 gnocchi and these also freeze well!
8 cups fresh organic spinach
about 1 1/2 cups white flour (quantity will depend on size of eggs)
2 medium eggs
1 cup full-fat ricotta
*If using low-fat, you will need to add more flour. Alternatively, strain the ricotta in a sieve or cheesecloth overnight to remove as much excess water as possible.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
cornmeal for dusting baking dish
Equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and butter for frying (as needed)
Blend spinach in a large food processor with the olive oil, ricotta, nutmeg, and Parmesan, until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending each time, until combined.
Add 1 cup of flour to the food processor and blend until incorporated.
*The mixture will still be sticky so continue to add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture is smooth and thickened. It should be soft and moist yet still come together to be able to shape into a log or roll into a ball.
There are a variety of ways that you can prepare these gnocchi; I’ve made these by forming logs then rolling them out onto a dry cutting board (dusted with flour) and then cutting off portions with a knife. However, my preferred method (which seems more difficult and time-consuming, but really isn’t) is shaping them into a “quenelle” (a fancy term for a football-shaped gnocchi).
Once prepared, place the gnocchi in a large baking pan or dish, dusted with cornmeal (just enough so they don’t stick to the pan). Place them in the fridge to chill for about an hour. Chilling them facilitates the shaping procees during preparation.
Here are 3 methods to prepare these:
1) Remove gnocchi from the fridge (or freezer) and place directly into a pot of boiling, salted water. Once the gnocchi rise to the top of the water, they are fully cooked and should be removed immediately. Add sauce of choice and serve.
2) Remove gnocchi from the fridge and add directly to the frying pan and sauté until heated through and browned on the outside.
3) Method #1 + method #2
I’ve tried all 3 ways and my favourite is #3. It is a bit more time-consuming, however, boiling the gnocchi ensures they are fully cooked and this method also reduces frying time significantly. (My guess is that your family will love these so much that you’ll make them again…and have the opportunity to switch up the cooking method!).
Boil gnocchi in a large pot with salted water until they float to the surface. In the meantime, heat butter and oil for 2 minutes in a large frying pan on medium heat. (I used 3 tbs. of olive oil and 3 tbs. of butter to fry all of the gnocchi.)
Once the gnocchi have risen to the top of the pot transfer them immediately to the frying pan, scooping them out with a slotted spoon to avoid adding the pasta water to the frying pan. Sauté in the pan, turning to brown on all sides, for 4-5 minutes.
*TIP: Fry in batches of 10-12 at a time. This will prevent them from sticking to each other and overcrowding the pan which reduces the temperature and lengthens the cooking time.
Remove the pan and drain on a large plate lined with paper towels, if desired.
(I serve them as is, nice and buttery, otherwise they tend to be somewhat dry without sauce.)
Serve immediately garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
These ricotta are the perfect size for little hands to grab and much on!