Been here, done this. But it’s worth writing about again, if briefly. Because this meal fits very nicely into the vegetarian meals phase. Three weeks in, I have to admit, I really wouldn’t mind eating some meat. I’m not craving steaks or hamburgers, but I do miss chicken…For now, fish is back in in limited quantities and I think it’ll stay there (i.e., not adding any further animals in including shellfish) for the time being.
On a cool spring evening, what’s a tasty dinner treat to celebrate “springing forward?” (I am hating daylight savings time right this minute. I’m tired, damnit.) Spinach and ricotta gnocci with a fresh tomato sauce. I’ve covered these before – in my former blog – but they are soooo worth trying out that I’m posting a photo and reprinting the gnocci recipe one more time. Both the gnocci and the sauce recipes are from Marcella Hazan (who died just recently), and I spent about an hour perusing her classic Italian cookbook yesterday morning, reading up on her recommendations on how to make pasta.
These gnocci come together relatively quickly, although the whole endeavor – including the sauce – will probably take you about an hour and a half. If I’m being honest. The sauce – Marcella’s classic Tomato, butter and onion – only has four ingredients, but needs to simmer for 45 minutes. There are no shortcuts. You can make the gnocci after getting the sauce up (2 pounds tomatoes – peeled and chopped, 5 tbs butter, one onion cut in half only, salt to taste – put in saucepan, simmer 45 minutes, remove onion. Done.)
And here is Marcella’s gnocci recipe (modified to remove the prosciutto – completely unnecessary, but adding in lemon peel).
1 lb fresh spinach or 1 10-ounce package frozen leaf spinach, thawed (Euro readers, 10 ounces = 283 grams, I used frozen and it was just fine)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon onion chopped very fine
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
The peel from about a half a lemon, grated.
Whole nutmeg (I cheated – put in a pinch of pre-ground)
1) Cook the spinach in a covered pan with salt (VERY IMPORTANT) for about 5 minutes (I did about 3…) Drain it and squeeze all the moisture out of it, chop it coarsely.
2) Saute the butter and onion in a small skillet until it is pale gold. Add the chopped spinach and some salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Take off the heat and let cool.
3) In a bowl, combine the spinach mixture, the flour and ricotta and stir. Add the egg yolks, grated Parmesan, and a grating of nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon), the grated lemon peel and mix with a spoon. Taste and correct for salt.
4) Make small pellets of the mixture, shaping them quickly by rolling them in the palm of your hand. Ideally they should be no bigger than 1/2 inch across, but if you find it troublesome to make them that small, you can try for 3/4 inch. If the mixture sticks to your palms (IT DOES), dust your hands lightly with flour. (I tried the flour, but that did not help. So instead, I wet my hands with water and then rolled them – and THAT WORKED).
5) Drop the gnocci, a few at a time (about a dozen or so) into boiling SALTED water. Cook them for about 3 minutes – or for about a minute or two after they return to the surface of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon.