Homemade Kale Ricotta Gnocchi

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pan fried kale gnocchiI 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?
ricer 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.

kale dough
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.

kale dough 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?

making kale gnocchi
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!

kale gnocchi Light and tender little pillows of dough filled with ricotta, parmesan or romano cheese and kale, surprisingly quick to whip up!

kale gnocchiI 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!

pan fried gnocchi 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.

pan fried gnocchiThis 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!

pan fried kale gnocchi
 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!

kale gnocchiUnless you prefer them simply boiled and tossed into homemade marinara, ( I repeat… homemade!) my husbands favorite way.
kale gnocchi 
Either way you choose you won’t go wrong, I promise!

Homemade Kale Ricotta Gnocchi
  • 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
  1. Place ricotta, grated cheese, salt and pepper into a bowl, whisk egg then add in.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Then fold in flour, little by little, you might need less or you might need more, but dough should come together quickly.
  5. Lightly flour your finger tips and a board.
  6. Cut off a chunk then roll it into a round snake, then cut off bite size pieces.
  7. Leave as is or make indention's with a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork.
  8. 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.
  9. Toss into your favorite sauce and eat immediately.
  10. 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.
  11. For my marinara sauce or additional sauce ideas for gnocchi, check out my e-book on Italian Sauces.
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  1. I’ve been following you for MANY years and have made many of your delicious recipes. I just moved from NJ to GA (semi-retirement) and joined a Let’s Eat Healthy cooking group. I would love to make this for our October meeting. How many people does this recipe feed so I can adjust for our group? We usually have about 15 people attend. Thanks so much!

    • Mary, I would say one recipe feeds 4 or 5, depends if you’re serving something else with and. how big you make them, so I would make at least 3 batches. Of course you can make these ahead of time, and I would recommend that.Freeze them on a sheet pan individually, then when frozen place them into a zip lock bag. Cook them from the frozen state and when they rise to the top they’re pretty much done.

  2. My gnocchi were more of a green color, but they were delicious! Served atop marinara and grated more pecorino romano over all. We didn’t have any leftovers. I understand why you triple the recipe! These would be great with a mushroom sauce as well. Thanks again!

  3. How long was your kale boiled?

  4. Very pretty! We eat gnocchi on the 29th of each month for luck…it’s a great excuse, for sure! Those little guys look way to good to eat!

  5. Denise Brosch says

    I am salivating over here!

  6. Looks so autumn-y and comforting.
    Great idea, the ricer.

  7. Love pan fried gnocchi! Such an under-used technique! Loving your blog, thank you!

  8. Amo la pasta!
    E amo l’Italia!!!

    What a great blog!

    Love and greetings from Germany,



  9. Made both the gnocchi and your marinara sauce last night…both insanely good! I really appreciate all the pictures…they whet the appetite long before the cooking smells do!! Thanks!

  10. What a great dish! I have never added veggies to gnocchi. And this panfried crispy thing is fab. This entire dish, in fact is brilliant. What wonderful flavor combinations.

    I want to be your neighbor. Isn’t a ricer just the greatest tool? My mom always used one for her mashed potatoes and to squeeze every last bit (and I do mean every last bit) of water out of things. It is an incredibly effective tool I remember that other moms on our street did not use ricers, often making their mashed potatoes using a hand held mixer. When we kids ate at other people’s homes, we always returned to ours grateful for our mom and her ricer. Alla prossima!

  11. Magnificent! What a fabulous recipe and beautiful photos! And I like the idea of draining the ricotta overnight-that must make a world of difference…

  12. I tried to reach into the computer to eat them but it didn’t work:(

  13. Your gnocci are a work of art!

  14. James Centanni says

    I enjoy the ricotta gnocci so much more than the potato ones. Marie the kale. Sounds great and I think i will try to make them, your recipe looks easy!

  15. Do you think you could freeze the shaped uncooked dough?

    • Jackie, just form the gnocchi, place them on a baking sheet and put the whole pan in your freezer, in about 30 minutes they will be solid frozen, then place the frozen gnocchi in a ziplock bag and into your freezer for later use, I do that all the time because I will double and triple the recipe often.

      • thank you so much. I do it with home made pasta, but hadn’t tried it with gnocchi…I didn’t want to waste a whole batch trying to freeze it if it didn’t work. BTW I LOVE your blog…keep up the good work!

  16. They look delicious.

  17. I am a lot intimidated by gnocchi, but you make me think I can do it. I use the ricer all the time for squeezing out the liquid. It works so well. It kills me to see the cooks on tv using a clean towel. Clearly they do not do their own laundry.

  18. Sounds simply divine! Thanks for posting!

  19. Kale is my new go-to and I seem to always have some in the fridge.Excellent tip about the potato ricer too.

  20. Oh Marie they look soooooo gooood! I’ve made spinach ricotta gnocchi many times but never thought to use kale instead. Tossed with butternut squash like this they look like perfection. If I can find a gluten free flour substitute I will make these for Thanksgiving. I usually wrap my greens in a cotton towel and wring them dry, but your method will save me clean up! 🙂

  21. Your photos have me drooling Marie. I’ve made this type of gnocchi with swiss chard, and I’ll bet you probably taste little difference with the kale after it’s all cooked with the sauce. I wish my kale had been as robust in the garden as yours sounds like it is, Marie. The butternut squash addition is a hit with me – anything with butternut squash is great. But all your sauces are delicious Marie, as outlined in your ebook.

  22. Hi Marie – When do you add the kale? And is it really just three tablespoons of kale?

    • I’ll go back and edit that Daniel, yes it’s 3 heaping tablespoons of chopped and pulsed kale, don’t forget it’s still damp and clumps together when measuring, it really is alot when you stir it up as you can see in the picture, each gnocchi has an ample amount through it, feel free to add more if you like.


  1. […] Recipe & Photo credit to prouditaliancook.com […]

  2. […] Kale Ricotta Gnocchi – This takes a little more time than most meals, so I recommend it for a lazy weekend evening.  This was one of those preparations that was meditative and lovely.  I truly enjoyed making this meal.  To make these a tad healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour for the white flour and part skim ricotta for the regular ricotta.  My gnocchi weren’t as pretty as hers, but who cares? They tasted pretty. I pan fried mine in the butter sage sauce and served with roasted butternut squash (tip: I like to leave the skin on my squash while it roasts and let it get nice and crispy.  It just adds another dimension of texture and flavor). Hope you try some out and enjoy them as much as I did! […]

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