I still have so much kale growing in my garden, I think it loves the cooler weather. I’ve already froze a bunch to put into soups, made my kale pesto, and since I’ve had gnocchi on my mind I thought, why not add some in there?
I don’t remember where I got this tip from but if you’re trying to squeeze out all the liquid from frozen or boiled spinach, kale, or any other leafy green, use a potato ricer! Even when I think I squeezed it all out by hand I’m so surprised how much more liquid comes out using the ricer, it’s amazing and it’s key to making this kind of gnocchi because you don’t ever want your dough to be really wet.
Same thing goes for your ricotta, especially if you buy it from a good Italian deli. I usually always have some liquid in the container when I bring my ricotta home, that too needs to be drained really well to achieve a good gnocchi dough, in fact I think it is key.
I like to drain my ricotta in a strainer over a bowl that I keep in my fridge overnight, when your ricotta is nice and cold the dough comes together beautifully, if the ricotta is warm or room temperature it tends to be more sticky and you’ll keep adding more flour which in turn makes your gnocchi heavier, and we don’t want heavy gnocchi do we?
Feel free to replace the kale for spinach or even swiss chard, but I have to tell you this was so good that I’ll be making it again and again!
Light and tender little pillows of dough filled with ricotta, parmesan or romano cheese and kale, surprisingly quick to whip up!
I decided to make mine 2 different ways, pan-fried with butternut squash in a brown butter sage sauce, and the more traditional way, boiled and tossed into a light homemade marinara. Please, never use jarred sauce from the grocery store!
Gnocchi takes only a few minutes to cook, toss them into boiling salted water, give them one good stir, let them rise to the top and boil for an additional 2 minutes, scoop them out with a wide hand strainer. Never pour them directly into a strainer for fear they might break, you must be gentle and handle with care.
For the pan-fried version you scoop them out of the water and immediately toss them into your hot and sizzling brown butter sauce, let them get slightly crispy golden on each side.
This is a perfect dish for the fall season, I added small diced pre-roasted butternut squash and tossed it in with the gnocchi. Finish the dish off with freshly grated parmesan cheese scattered all over the top, perfection!
Slightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and flavored so good, it doesn’t get better than this, one of my absolute favorites!
- 1½ cups of drained ricotta, nice and cold
- ¼ cup of grated cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper
- 3 heaping tablespoons of cooked, squeezed dry, then pulse chopped in a food processor of either kale, spinach or swiss chard.
- 1 cup or so of unbleached AP flour
- Place ricotta, grated cheese, salt and pepper into a bowl, whisk egg then add in.
- If ricotta is lumpy, which it usually is, take a hand mixer on low to break up the lumps and just to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Turn off the mixer and stir in the kale, I know it sounds like a small amount but the kale is damp and it all clumps together, when stirred it incorporates and distributes very well, 3 heaping tablespoons worked for the amount of flour and ricotta I used, but feel free to use more if you like.
- Then fold in flour, little by little, you might need less or you might need more, but dough should come together quickly.
- Lightly flour your finger tips and a board.
- Cut off a chunk then roll it into a round snake, then cut off bite size pieces.
- Leave as is or make indention's with a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork.
- Toss gnocchi into salted boiling water, let them float to the top and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, taste for doneness, then scoop them out with a hand strainer.
- Toss into your favorite sauce and eat immediately.
- For pan-fried, drain them and crisp them up in the sizzling butter sage sauce, then add small diced pre- roasted butternut squash and plenty of parmesan cheese.
- For my marinara sauce or additional sauce ideas for gnocchi, check out my e-book on Italian Sauces.