Monday, July 2, 2007

Gnocchi without the potatoes

When I'm out at an Italian restaurant, I order gnocchi when it's available because I have heard the package premade variety have a funkdafied chemical aftertaste, so I've always been scared to try them. Not having a food mill, I've never really attempted making gnocchi at home.

That is until I saw a recipe for ricotta gnocchi with spinach. I found a recipe in Bon Appetit, so I ran it through recipe builder. It came out as 7 pts. That's reasonable, but with baking, and boiling, and etc. etc. etc., the recipe sounded a bit involved. Miraculously I found a Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi on the Weight Watchers site and it was easier. Surprisingly, despite needing a serious case of seasoning—it's very good. I skipped the suggestion to serve with tomato sauce from a can, and made my own adapting a recipe from an America's Test Kitchen episode.

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi
1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

Steam spinach just until wilted. Squeeze in a kitchen towel to remove all of the excess water and finely chop.

Combine spinach, flour, bread crumbs, and both cheese in a bowl. Drop 1 tbsp into flour and roll into an oval. Repeat until 36 gnocchi are formed.

Drop into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook until gnocchi float to the top, about 2 minutes. Makes six servings of six gnocchi.

Marinara Sauce
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes in juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 - 2 teaspoons sugar , as needed

Pour tomatoes and juice into strainer set over large bowl. Open tomatoes with hands and remove and discard fibrous cores; let tomatoes drain excess liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove 3/4 cup tomatoes from strainer and set aside. Reserve 2 1/2 cups tomato juice and discard remainder.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden around edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes from strainer and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring every minute, until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to bottom of pan and brown fond forms around pan edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Add reserved tomato juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and loosening browned bits, until sauce is thick, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer sauce to food processor and add reserved tomatoes; process until slightly chunky, about eight 2-second pulses. Return sauce to skillet and add basil and extra-virgin olive oil and salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

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