Gnocchi is an Italian dish of little dumplings which can be made in three ways: with semolina, potato or flour and eggs. I’m using the latter with ricotta cheese, which is readily available and is probably the cheese most used in cooking in Italy.

Ingredients

  • 350 g (12 oz) fresh spinach, stalks removed
  • 175 g (6 oz) ricotta, drained and diced
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g (2 oz) plain flour
  • 25 g (1 oz) Parmesan, grated
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the Dressing

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) olive oil
  • 4 shallots or 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 6 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped

    To serve

  • Parmesan flakes

Method

Wash the spinach well to remove any grit then shake off any excess water. Place the spinach into a hot pan and cook in its own water for a few minutes until the leaves begin to wilt. Remove them from the pan and squeeze out any excess liquid. Blitz the spinach in a food processor or chop it very finely. Mix the spinach with the ricotta, egg, flour and Parmesan and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To make the dressing, warm the olive oil with the chopped shallots or onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. Keep the dressing warm while you cook the gnocchi.

Using floured hands, shape the gnocchi into small 2.5 cm (1 in) balls. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (or you could use vegetable stock) and drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. When the balls rise to the surface after just a few minutes they are cooked. Remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain well. Add the chopped basil to the dressing at the last minute, just before serving, then roll the gnocchi in the dressing and divide between four bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan flakes and serve.

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