Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi with Walnut-Gorgonzola Sauce

  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 35 mins
  • Cook 15 mins

Ingredients

For the Gnocchi
1/4 cup very finely chopped cooked spinach, or frozen spinach, thawed
1 large egg, beaten
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 to 1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more flour if needed
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped California walnuts, lightly toasted
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, cut in small pieces (preferably a mild, sweet gorgonzola)
Salt as needed

Instructions

  1. To prepare the gnocchi mixture, squeeze the chopped spinach to remove excess liquid.  Place the spinach in a large bowl, add the egg, and stir briskly to combine.   Add the cheeses, 1 cup of the flour, and the salt.  Using your hands, mix everything together until the flour and ricotta are evenly blended, and the mixture looks like a cohesive, but sticky, dough.
  2. Scrape onto a wooden board or other work surface, dust your hands, the work surface and dough with some of the extra flour, and knead gently for 2-3 minutes.  As the dough becomes sticky again, sprinkle with some of the remaining flour and continue kneading.  (The amount of flour can vary, depending on the moisture in your dough.)   When the dough is soft, smooth, pliable, and perhaps still just a bit sticky, it is ready to be formed into gnocchi.  (At this point, you might find the gnocchi easier to shape if you refrigerate the dough, in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, for several hours or overnight.)
  3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces of about equal size.  Flour your hands, and flour the work surface lightly.  Using both hands, working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough with a light back and forth motion under your palms, stretching it lightly sideways into a rope-like shape about the thickness of your index finger.  Cut into 1-inch pieces; you will get approximately 18-20 gnocchi from each roll.  Set aside, on a very lightly floured surface.  Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining dough.
  4. Dip a table fork in flour, and hold it firmly, with its tines against your work surface and facing away from you.  One at a time, place a cut gnocchi on the tines and, using your index finger or thumb, gently slide, or roll, it along the length of the tines—you may slide from the bottom up or top down, whichever is more comfortable for you.  The goal of this action is to give the gnocchi the ridges imprinted by the fork on one side, and the hollow indentation of your finger on the other, thus creating plenty of crevices for the sauce to cling.
  5. As you complete this rolling, let the gnocchi fall back onto the work surface.  Continue until all the gnocchi have been formed.  As your surface becomes crowded, transfer the formed gnocchi to a cookie sheet.
  6. The gnocchi can be cooked immediately, or can be kept in the refrigerator, uncovered, for several hours or overnight before cooking.
  7. When you are ready to prepare the sauce and serve, bring a large pot of salted water (about 8 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt) to a boil over high heat.
  8. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.   (If you don’t have one very large skillet, divide the sauce ingredients and gnocchi between two skillets.)  When the butter begins to foam, add the walnuts and stir for a moment.  Add the cream and Gorgonzola and season lightly with salt.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. As the sauce simmers, add the gnocchi to the boiling water; they will sink to the bottom.  Cook, uncovered over high heat, until the gnocchi rise to the surface, usually 1 – 2 minutes.  Using a skimmer or large slotted spoon, lift the gnocchi from the water, letting excess water drip back into the pot, and place in the skillet with the sauce.  Stir gently and briefly over low heat until gnocchi and sauce are well combined.  If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a splash of the cooking water.  Taste, season with salt if necessary, and serve hot.

Variation:  If you wish, 1 lb. of fettuccine, cooked according to package directions, may be substituted for the gnocchi.

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Biba Caggiano or BIBA Restaurant

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