Spinach gnocchi – two ways
Gnocchi really are so easy to prepare and comforting to eat that I have no idea why I don’t make them more often. The addition of spinach and lack of potatoes in this particular recipe makes them a little healthier and lighter than the traditional version – at least that’s what I tell myself!
With this recipe, we’re going to give you two options – to serve them with sage buter or with asparagus, peas and pesto (the version in the pic). Both are delicious. The sage butter is wonderful as an Italian-style starter. The asparagus version works well as a satisfying summer lunch or weekday supper with a big green herb salad
For the gnocchi:
For the sage butter:
For the asparagus, peas and pesto:
Cook the spinach in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain in a colander and cool slightly. Squeeze as much water out as possible and chop finely. Alternatively use frozen, chopped spinach that has been de-frosted.
Put the spinach in a bowl with the ricotta, parmesan, egg yolks and flour. Season with salt and black pepper, and mix everything together thoroughly.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Use two teaspoons to shape the gnocchi into ovals, as you would when making quenelles. If that sounds too complicated or faffy, make sure you have cool hands and, working quickly, simply roll the mixture into walnut-size balls. Place the gnocchi on the lined tray. Transfer the tray to the fridge and leave uncovered for at least 1 hour to dry out.
If you are making the sage butter version…
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Lower the gnocchi carefully into the water and reduce the heat slightly. Let the gnocchi simmer until they rise to the surface.
While the gnocchi are cooking, heat a medium frying pan and melt the butter before adding the roughly chopped sage leaves.
Take the gnocchi out of the pan a few at a time, resting the spoon on a piece of kitchen roll to remove excess water, and tip them into the frying pan with the sage butter. Turn to coat all over in warm butter and serve immediately with more Parmesan grated on top.
If you are making the asparagus, pea and pesto version…
Make your pesto before you begin preparing the gnocchi. Place the basil, the pine nuts, the garlic, the oils and a good twist of salt and pepper in a tall, cylindrical plastic container. Blitz the whole lot with a stick blender until you have a pesto-like consistency. Finally, stir in the Parmesan and taste to check the balance is right before adding more Parmesan, oil or salt as needed. Alternatively you can make the pesto in a small food processor or a pestle and mortar.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Gently lower the asparagus tips and peas into the water and blanch for 2 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon. Set aside and keep warm.
Lower the gnocchi carefully into the boiling water and reduce the heat slightly. Let the gnocchi simmer until they rise to the surface.
While the gnocchi are cooking, heat a large frying pan on a low heat and add 3-4 tbsp of the pesto, along with the asparagus and peas. Take the gnocchi out of the pan a few at a time, resting the spoon on a piece of kitchen roll to remove excess water, and tip them into the frying pan. Coat in the pesto and serve immediately with more Parmesan grated on top.
It’s hard to look beyond Italy when faced with these lovely little balls of delight. A crisp Friulian Sauvignon Blanc is called for with the asparagus, pea and pesto sauce, while a rich style of Soave would be delicious with the sage butter coating.