RECIPE: Florentine Gnocchi aka: Ravioli Nudi, "Little Field Mice" or Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings
These dumplings have been a favorite at our house for a couple of years. They are not that hard to make and they have very little flour. So if you use low fat dairy, this would be a great phase 3 South Beach dish. My daughter also loves them, and I don't think she realizes she is eating spinach. So if you have trouble getting your little ones to eat green vegetables, this might do the trick. You can make these with more ricotta cheese than the recipe calls for. In fact, the photos below are done with more cheese than the recipe. But I have added photos at the bottom with a more accurate ratio of cheese to spinach, and you can see that the dumplings hold their shape better. Also, this recipe calls for the dumplings to be tossed with butter. I think they would be just as good in a vodka sauce, a pesto, an olive oil sauce or a plain tomato sauce. I think a cream sauce would be overkill.
Ravioli Nudi, "Little Field Mice" or Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings
2 6 oz. packages of ready-to-use baby spinach leaves
2 6 oz. packages regular ready-to-use spinach
(you can replace 2 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach, defrosted, if you can't get fresh)
2 to 2 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (about) all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
Generous pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cook spinach in a large pot of boiling salted water until just wilted. Do not cover. Stir occasionally for about two minutes. Drain. Squeeze out liquid as much as possible. Then chop. Mix the spinach with the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup flour, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl until a sticky dough forms. It will be sticky, be careful not to put too much flour in the mix, you will change the texture of the dumplings.
Dust a baking sheet with flour. Flour your work surface and flour your hands. Working in batches, roll about a cup of dough on your floured surface to form a foot long log. Cut the log into 1 inch pieces. Take each piece and roll into ovals using flour on your hands, and place on floured cookie sheet. Continue until all dough is used. You may now chill your dumplings up to one day ahead, or even freeze them. We have read that chilling helps them to keep their shape, but we have never had a problem with them. We just get cooking right away. (who can wait?)
While rolling our dumplings, heat a large pot of boiling, salted water. Using a straining spoon, gently dunk your dumplings in the water. Cook them in batches so they don't stick together. The dumplings will rise to the surface. Let them cook at the top for 4-5 minutes longer, then pull them out and drain using the straining or slotted spoon. Place them in a warm serving bowl. Meanwhile, melt your butter. When all the dumplings are done, toss with butter and sprinkle with more parmesan and serve.
Below are the dumplings with less ricotta, As you can see, they tend to hold their shape a little better and cook more evenly. But they are less cheesy.