“I eat healthily. It’s just that I eat enough for five healthy people”, Nigella Lawson
I can’t resist this for the first recipe which originated from Tuscany. To achieve a light fluffy melt in your mouth gnocchi the key is to work the mixture very lightly and use minimum flour on your hands when shaping them and working quickly. I used a plain Napolitano Sauce by frying some onions then adding two bottles of homemade tomato pasta sauce. I then added in fresh basil, a little nutmeg and pepper and salt to taste then reduced it down. This dish works equally as well frying up some butter till it goes just nut brown and adding fresh sage leaves. Either way always finish with a good quality grated cheese, I suggest either Grana Padano or Reggiano Parmigiano on top. Remember, the dish is so simple it really makes a big difference using the best ingredients.
Also, I buy the ricotta fresh on the day. Nothing beats hot ricotta first thing in the morning. I always have to taste it as soon as I get home. Put it on some toasted sourdough bread then drizzle some orange blossom honey and fruit. Hmm! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. ‘Alba’ (Assembly Drive, in Tullamarine Industrial Park) makes fresh Ricotta every morning except Saturday’s.
Tip: An old Italian secret. If you grate the Parmesan yourself don’t throw away the rind. Or if you have it freshly grated at a deli just ask to keep the rind. Scrape the outside with a knife a little and pop in the freezer. Next time you decide to make soup, especially minestrone, just take out of the freezer and put it in the soup as you cook it. Then take it out when the soup is ready. It gives the soup an amazing rounded flavour plus you can reduce adding extra salt.
This serves 4-6 people.
1200g Ricotta (drained)
2 bunches English Spinach
I handful of Chopped Italian Parsley
5 tablespoons of Plain Flour, Preferably Organic Unbleached (plus extra when shaping the Gnocchi)
100g Grated Parmesan (Grana Padano or Reggiano Parmigiano) Extra for topping later
Approximately 1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg
Plenty of freshly grated Pepper then salt to taste
Wash the spinach thoroughly then place in a heavy bottomed pan and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the leaves wilt.
When cooled, squeeze the spinach in your hands until all excess water is out. Chop roughly.
Pour the spinach into a bowl with the chopped parsley, drained ricotta, 100g of Parmesan and lightly beaten eggs.
Mix lightly but thoroughly together and then season with salt, nutmeg and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper.
Sift in the plain flour and again mix gently. The mixture should be thickened enough so that you can handle it easily without too much stickiness. Adjust if need be. That’s why it is important that the spinach is dry and ricotta well drained.
Shape by using a teaspoon to make approximately 2-inch size balls or 3-inch croquette shape using your hands.
Roll gently in a bowl of plain flour to coat then gently dust off excess flour and set aside.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
Gently slip in about 8 gnocchi at a time into the boiling water and gently scoop them out as they float to the top using a slotted spoon.
Have a large warmed platter prepared with some Napolitano Sauce or Melted butter and gently place the gnocchi on top.
Finish with a little more sauce and a generous serve of freshly grated Parmesan then serve at once.