Instagram Live with Julie and Sylvia to make Ricotta Gnocchi!

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi 

These delicate little dumplings are from Zia Lina, my dad’s middle sister. She makes a plain ricotta version too without the spinach that is equally delicious. (see Tip) She makes these for special occasions (usually when we come!), but they work for just a typical family meal. If you’re not a fan of spinach just omit it.
In addition to the gnocchi basket from my Nonna, I also have a gnocchi paddle that makes the ridges on these gnocchi perfectly. After showing my dad the little board, he took it away and came back with a prototype that was easy to use and just the right size, just for me! He later made a box full which I take with me to cooking classes to sell. It was such a pleasure to showcase my dad’s craft as a woodworker and carpenter. Most of my students were happy to buy one and take it home to recreate gnocchi for their families. It makes me smile knowing some people have some of my family’s work in their homes.

1 large tub (10 oz/300 g) baby spinach, washed
1 tub (475 g) ricotta cheese
1 egg
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour (approx.), divided
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 batch of Homemade Tomato (see recipe below)

In a large skillet, cover and cook spinach over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze spinach well. Chop spinach; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs and spinach. Gradually stir in 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) of flour and salt with wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. 

Place dough on a floured surface and knead in remaining flour for 5 minutes to form a smooth dough.
Divide dough into 8 pieces; roll each into long, thin strands, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut into about 36 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces.

Roll each piece across tines of a fork, gnocchi paddle or gnocchi basket to form grooves. Toss with flour and place in a single layer on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Place in freezer until firm, about 2 hours. Use a flat spatula or wooden spoon to gently scrape off the baking sheet.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook gnocchi from frozen for about 8 minutes or until they float to the top and are tender throughout. Drain with a slotted spoon, toss with Tomato sauce.

Make ahead: If you want to freeze the gnocchi, once they are firmly frozen, use a spatula to scrape pasta off a baking sheet into a freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Tip: To make plain ricotta gnocchi, like my Zia Lina sometimes does, omit spinach and use only 2 cups (500 mL) of flour to stir in to form soft dough. You may need to knead in more flour to form a smooth dough.

Makes 2 lb (1 kg), enough for 4 to 6 servings.
Tip: You will need about 16 cups (4 L) of lightly packed baby spinach.
Tip: You will need 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

This is as close to my mom and Nonna’s sauce that I can get. Using home-made canned tomatoes makes a difference, but most people don’t get a chance to can their own tomatoes. I wanted to be able to offer you a recipe for a tomato sauce using store-bought canned tomatoes that was easy to make and still tasted great!
This sauce is perfect for pasta or any other dish that uses tomato sauce like pizza. It’s simple and tasty and also freezes beautifully.

2 cans (28 oz/796 mL) plum tomatoes
 6 sprigs fresh Italian parsley

2 sprigs fresh basil
1 small onion, halved
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) dried oregano leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) salt 
1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes

In a food mill or blender, puree tomatoes until smooth and pour into large saucepan. Add parsley, basil, onion, garlic, oil, oregano, salt and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to medium-low heat; cook for about 2 hours or until reduced slightly and thickened. 
You can serve up the very soft onion, garlic and herbs on crusty bread. 

Makes 5 cups (1.25 L) of sauce.

Tip: You can use two 3 cup (750 mL) jars of homemade tomatoes if you can your own. You can also use 2 jars (700 mL) of tomato passata if you don’t want to puree them yourself.


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