Naked Gnocchi with Spinach and Ricotta

Today, for the very first time, we will be cooking with butter instead of Olive Oil.
This succulent and kids friendly dish comes again from my grandmother’s kitchen; it is not a traditional Tuscan recipe, like many we already shared…
Lola is from Venice, and this “Strozzapreti” version has been served on our table since I can remember.There are several legends to explain the name “Strozzapreti” (The Priest Chockers)…
One is that gluttonous priests were so enthralled by the savory pasta that they ate
too quickly and choked themselves, sometimes to death.
As always, there are several variations and preparations…some even involving different ingredients, but still intended to choke Priests, I assume.

The recipe we are posting calls for Ricotta Cheese, and needs to be cooked in the oven.
The main variation on this dish replaces the Ricotta with boiled Potatoes (1Lb)…
when the balls are ready, instead of cooking them into the oven, they need to be cooked in salted boiling water, as if they were regular pasta. Cooking time is extremely short, as soon as the gnocchi will come to the surface they are ready to be collected, drained and served.
Also a different dressing can be used…red sauce and basil instead of the butter and sage we are using today.

INGREDIENTI

Serves: 6 / Prep Time: 20 min / Cooking Time: 15-20 min

2 ½ Lb of Spinach
1 ½ Lb of Ricotta Cheese
6 Tbsp Parmesan, freshly Grated
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten
All purpose Flour, for dusting
¼ Cup of Butter, melted
Salt and Pepper
1

Cut the stems off the spinach, and soak them in the sink. Wash them thoroughly, using the juice of a lemon or a vegetable wash. Rinse them well, and in a very large non-stick pan, cook them for five minutes, in just the water clinging to the leaves after washing.

2

Drain them and chop them very fine. The spinach will cool off while you chop them, when you can handle them well, squeeze them into your hands, extracting some extra water.This is very important, because drying the spinach it will help you mold better gnocchi later.

3

Preheat the oven to 350 Fº.

4

Put the spinach in a bowl, add the ricotta, half of the Parmesan, the egg yolks, and season with a couple of pinches of salt and some freshly grated black pepper. Mix well, and make sure that the ricotta crumbles into fine pieces, and mixes properly with the spinach and the rest of the ingredients.

5

Shape the mixture into balls.

6

Butter a Pyrex pan, lay all the gnocchi in it, dress it with a few very thin slices and some grated Parmesan and put it in the oven. Cook the Gnocchi at 350 Fº for about 20 minutes, and then use the broiler for the last five minutes to crisp the dish.

7

In a non stick pan melt about 1 ½ tablespoon of butter, and sauté the sage until it starts browning.

8

Serve on a warm plate, dress with the melted butter and sage sauce, then garnish with some freshly grated Parmesan.

Buon Appetito

Debi and Gabriele