Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gnocchi with Marinara and Fresh Spinach

Gnocchi is the Italian word for dumpling. These have been a favorite of my husbands for a long time.  So when we went to a great little restaurant near us for dinner he ordered this fabulous Gnocchi dish with marinara sauce and fresh spinach.  We both liked it so much we decided to try our hand at recreating it.  It was sooo good!  Just as good as the original!  The Gnocchi recipe we found on Food Network.

Gnocchi with Marinara and Fresh Spinach
(4 servings)

kosher salt (optional)
1 pound russet potatoes
3-4 large egg yolks
1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 recipe Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce or your favorite store bought brand
Fresh spinach
chicken sausage (optional)
fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread a layer of kosher salt on a baking sheet and arrange potatoes on top.  Bake until a bit over cooked (about 45 minutes).  Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the insides.

Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater.  You should have about 2 cups.  Make a mound of the potatoes on the counter with a well in the middle.  Add the 3 eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese to the well.  Mix well with your hands. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes.  Fold the mass over on itself and press down again.  Sprinkle on more flour, little by little folding and pressing the dough until it holds together (try not to knead it, this will make the gnocchi tough). Work any dough on your fingers back into the dough.  If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water.  The dough should give under light pressure.  It will feel firm but yielding.  To test if the dough is the right consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2 inch in diameter.  If the dough holds together, it is ready.  If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times and then test again.

On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1/2 in long pieces.  Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them.  You can cook these as us or form them into the classic Gnocchi shape using the times of the back side of a fork.  We watched this YouTube Video and it made it way easier.

Lightly four the Gnocchi as you shape them and then place them on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  If you will not be cooking the Gnocchi now, you can freeze them for a later use.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.  Drop the Gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Drain the Gnocchi.

Place some Gnocchi in a bowl or on a plate.  Top with fresh spinach, then sauce and finally shredded Parmesan and chicken sausage if desired.  The heat of the Gnocchi and the sauce will slightly cook the spinach leaving a slight crisp to it.  Delish!

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