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Ricotta and spinach gnocchi

Light and fluffy ricotta and spinach gnocchi (based on Sophie Grigson recipe)

Ingredients (for four)

650g fresh spinach, cooked until wilting

250g ricotta cheese

100g parmesan, freshly grated

150g plain flour, plus extra for flouring

2 free-range eggs

Freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

400g can chopped tomatoes

250ml red wine

2 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp caster sugar

Herbs to taste (eg fresh basil) and seasoning

To serve
Freshly grated parmesan, or similar vegetarian hard cheese

The actual quantity of spinach need not be followed exactly - you can use less than this and still have it work beautifully. 

Method

For the gnocchi, place the cooked fresh spinach into a sieve to drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then weigh the spinach - you should have about 250g of spinach after all the water has been squeezed out. Chop it up finely.

Place the ricotta into a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the spinach, parmesan, flour, eggs and plenty of nutmeg. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well with your hands, making sure it is evenly blended. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or more before moving on to the next step.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and carrot slowly until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, caster sugar, wine and herbs, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir. Leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from catching on the bottom, even adding a splash of water if necessary. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Use a stick blender or place the tomato mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth, then set aside.

Dredge a large plate with plenty of flour. Take dessertspoons of the chilled ricotta mixture, roll into neat balls, then roll in the flour. Place on a floured tray and set aside until needed or put back in the fridge.

Shortly before you intend to eat the gnocchi, bring a wide, shallow pan of water to the boil, then turn the heat down to a more gentle simmer. Carefully add your gnocchi to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd, and poach for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the tomato sauce.

When the gnocchi are cooked, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place onto warmed plates, or into one large shallow serving dish, and pour over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Recipe Category: Pasta and Spinach.

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