Gnocchi's are Italian dumplings. They can be made in many different ways. In my mom's village, Carpinone they would make them with either potato or ricotta cheese. It would depend on what they had available to make them with. I have stayed in my mom's village in Italy with her and my family for many months at a time and I remember a man in a truck always driving by yelling "POTATO POTATO PER I GNOCCH!" (potatoes, potatoes for gnocchi). People would stop and get there potatoes for the gnocchi's right there and then would make potato gnocchi. My Nonno and Nonna (Grandma and Grandpa) had a farm (la massaria) down the hill from thier house. They raised many animal and would make their own cheeses including fresh ricotta cheese. My family was not rich so they would use whatever they had in their garden or what they could make with what they had on their farm. With the ricotta cheese my Nonna, mom and aunts would make ricotta gnocchi's and also add spinach to them to make spinach ricotta gnocchi's or cooked carrot. These gnocchi's are as delicious as the potato ones, but I prefer them over potato, because they are lighter and not full of carbs as the potato ones are.
This year I hosted my first family Christmas Eve dinner and made these because they had green from the spinach and red from the sauce to make Christmas colors! I also made a batch of plain ricotta ones as well to toss in. I have been making gnocchi's since before I could read! These are any easy pasta to make, trust me and try these at home with your favorite homemade sauce!
Ingredients:* 2 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese (I like Sorrento, unless you can get a fresh ricotta cheese)
~NOTE: DO NOT USE SKIM RICOTTA! ONLY WHOLE MILK!
* 2 eggs
* 2 tsp. of salt
* 2 cups of all purpose flour
* 1 bag of spinach (1lb)~NOTE: for plain ricotta gnocchi just omit the spinach (For Chrismas Eve I did one batch spinach and one batch without spinach and tossed them together)
Procedure: Step 1 preparing the spinach
* Open bag of spinach and remove all stems
* Place spinach in colander and rinse
* Toss all spinach in a large pot and put on med high heat
~NOTES: do not add anything to the pot. The spinach makes its own liquid and will cook just fine by itself
* Toss Spinach around with tongs while it cooks
~ NOTE: It looks like a lot of spinach, but it will cook way down!
* One the spinach is fully cooked, place in a colander to drain and then once cool, squeeze out all the liquid. You will be surprised how much liquid spinach makes and you do not want that liquid in your gnocchi dough.
* Once spinach is all drained, place in a bowl and cut it up in little pieces with a knife and fork.
Procedure: Step 2 making the gnocchi dough
* In a large mixing bowl, put ricotta, eggs, and salt and mix with a wooden spoon or other large spoon
* Add chopped spinach and mix
* Add a cup of flour to the mixture and stir and them add the other cup and at this point you will want to mix it up with your hands until you form a dough ball. It is okay if the mixture is a little sticky. You will be adding more flour later. Set the dough aside.
Procedure: Step 3 getting work spot ready
* Grab a large wooden cutting board (or if you have a large table that is fine too, but a large board works best)
* put a pile of flour on the corner of the board and sprinkle flour on the rest of the board to prevent sticking.
* Next, get a large cookie sheet and sprinkle it all over with flour (this is where you will place your gnocchi after you cut them.
Procedure: Step 4 making the gnocchi
* Take about a golf ball size piece of the dough and toss it in the flour and then with your palms and fingertips roll them into 1/2 inch ropes.
* Dip a sharp knife into flour and cut the gnocchi into about 1/2 inch pieces.
* Scoop them up with a scraper or a cookie spatula and place into the floured cookie sheet. Make sure they are separated, or else they will stick together.
~TIP: if you want them to have that fancy gnocchi design, just take a fork and dip it in flour. Then put the fork sharp side down on the board. take your gnocchi and roll it down the fork. It will curl and make a pretty design. (It takes a long time, so I only make the design if I am making a small batch. For a lot of people I don't even bother!)
* Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil
* Once the water is boiling, carefully toss the gnocchi in and let cook for about 6 minutes. You will know the gnocchi are done, when they are floating to the top.
As they float to the top, take them out with a slotted spoon and put into a pasta bowl.* Once they are done, pour sauce over them and serve with some grated cheese on top!