Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi Badly Made


As soon as I saw the nickname of the gnocchi "malfatti" (badly made), I thought in all my under-achieving glory, "I could make that." And so I did. And it was ugly. I then served it with heaps of  fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and made it uglier still.



And it was delicious. I fell in love with "no-fuss, earthy, plain but delicious." I had been in a new adventure with rodents - and was in no mood for fuss. Pippin (the non-mouse killing cat) had chased mouse-breath into the hall closet where I promptly shut the door, stuffed the bottom with towels and went back to work. Later I realized the mouse had been confined with 8 pounds of cat food. It was suggested to me that when I opened the door, I would find a fat mouse with an identity crisis.

I wanted food that I could roll and thump and form - badly. I didn't want pretty crimped edges. I wanted to swallow - the earth (sans rodents). This peasant-hearty, better if you have been mushroom-foraging all day (as opposed to mouse-foraging) - meal fit the bill.

My mother came over and kept swiping them from the baking pan. I finally heated some up, poured a few tablespoons of melted butter and scattered some Parmesan on top and made her a proper plate. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ingredients - 8 first-course servings
(From Bon Appetit's May 2000 issue - I seem to be working my way through it)
4-6 ounce bags ready-to-use spinach (I used two large bags and a some handfuls of arugula)
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground peppers
Generous pinch of ground nutmeg

For serving:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese




Cook spinach in salted, boiling water until just wilted - about two minutes (really 1 minute will do it). Drain and squeeze out liquid (the hardest part of the process). Chop spinach.

Mix spinach, ricotta. 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup flour, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg in bowl until sticky dough forms. Dust baking sheet with flour. (I over-dusted. I know that surprises you.) Using floured hands, roll 1/4 cup dough into 5 inch-long rope. Cut rope into 1-inch pieces. (I did this for awhile and then just started rolling 1-inch balls.) Roll each piece between hands to form an oval. (I formed a rectangle - it tastes the same.)

Working in batches, add gnocchi to a large pot of salted, boiling water. Boil until gnocchi rise to the surface and then cook 4 minutes longer. (I cooked about 8 at a time). Remove with slotted spoon.

Pour butter over gnocchi and toss with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve. Peasant food at its best.

(Can be made ahead: cover gnocchi, chill. Reheat in 400 degree F oven for about ten minutes).



In Tuscany these are also called "topini verdi." (Little green mice). No irony there.

37 comments:

Mister Meatball said...

I dunno how you could eat sumthin so ugly!

Next time this happens you should just pack up the big pile of ugliness and ship it off to, well, you know...

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I make these all the time, Claudia! The dough is stickier than potato gnocchi, so I understand how hard it is to make them look picture perfect. When they are smothered in a good sauce they just melt in the mouth with goodness!

What happened to that mouse? I'm sure Pippin wanted to be feed sooner or later.

Choices said...

Looks yummy to me! When you said that you were going right through the May issue of Bon Apettis, it reminded me of the movie, Julia, Julia. Did you see it?

Claudia said...

Choices: I believe I have Julie and Julia memorized...

Lizzy said...

Oh, gosh, I have to try these! LOVE gnocchi and LOVE spinach! These sound amazing...and I don't mind ugly when good taste is involved :)

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Oh, I ADORE malfatti! They were one of my favourite things that my ma made (admittedly a tough call). Hers, however, were even MORE badly made! Malfattissimi! What she used to do - and I have never seen anyone else use this technique - was make a slacker batter and just plop teaspoonsful straight into the poaching water. So ugly, so good.

Reeni said...

These are rustic and homey and the epitome of comfort food! Not ugly at all. Make me a plate up and I'll trade you for some tomato pie!

Claudia said...

Vibey: I am "so" going to do what your mother did next time. Smart woman.

Jeannie said...

I wouldn't mind ugliness as long as it tastes heavenly! Beauty is after all only skin deep:D

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Here's another idea courtesy of a trainer chef at the culinary institute where I work. It's a technique for gnocchi parisienne, but would easily work with a slacker malfatti mixture:

Put mixture into a piping bag fitted with large plain nozzle, or no nozzle at all. Now here's the clever bit: tie a string from one handle of the pot to the other, so you have it taught over the poaching water. Start squeezing out the batter, waving your wrist from side to side to cut it with the string at appropriate intervals.

How clever is THAT? He only told me a few days ago and I'm dying to try it!

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

That should read "have it TAUT over the poaching water".

Oy. That's going to weigh on my conscience today.

Pegasuslegend said...

I love this! this far from looks ugly and can adorn my plate anyday of the week nicely done gorgeous is the word!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

As long as they taste great, who cares what they look like - but these don't look "badly made" in any event. Hope you got that mouse.

Katie said...

Pretty or not...I'd eat that in a heartbeat! Yum!

5 Star Foodie said...

They look scrumptious, I'd love to make this for 5 star foodie jr.

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

These may not look the way you wanted them to, but they sound really fantastic!

Sandra said...

I think those look wonderful and very tasty..Great recipe for sure! Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful night!

We Are Not Martha said...

Mmm but it looks absolutely amazingly delicious!! :)

Sues

Emily Malloy said...

These are beautiful!

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

Yum! They are also called "gnudi" in Tuscany... but regardless of the name, they are delicious!

Mary said...

You are overly sensitive about their appearance. I know they were delicious and hopefully these "green mice" took your mind off the treasure found in the catfood. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Rosemary said...

I think they're beautiful! Really!!!

Juliana said...

Oh Claudia...I saw this recipe on the magazine...yours look delicious, I have all the ingredients...it may be my dinner tonight :-)
Hope you are having a great week!

FOODESSA said...

Some dishes just speak to our hearts and a dish like this one certainly spoke to my tummy...Book marked.

Have a great weekend Claudia and flavourful, ugly dish wishes. ;o)

Claudia

ARLENE said...

These look beautiful to me. Wow, could I go for a big plateful...or, I'd settle for eating them off the baking sheet one by one.

That Girl said...

This is great. My gnocchi is ugly AND falls apart.

Beth said...

Ugly food is sometimes the most delicious! I love the nicknames for gnocchi, and I think one of the best compliments you can give a dish is to call it "peasant food".

But what happened to the mouse?

Claudia said...

R.I.P. mouse. Sorry, mouse lovers.

My Little Space said...

Claudia, such delicious gnocchi! I bet the flavour is amazing too. Slurp.
Kristy

cookingvarieties said...

hi claudia, making this will always be fun, when reading your funny recipe instructions to cook. yummy? yay yay will try this .thanks for sharing a new variety to fix spinach.

Andreea said...

That looks absolutely amazing! I love spinach!

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Ugly? I'l sure they must have tasted delicious!! I have never made potato gnocchi....I will try and share...frustration? no way.....my Italian at heart family will adore that!

myfrenchkitchen said...

I ahven't eaten gnocci for a very very long time and now I do feel like having some...making some...how do you say..."no-fuss, earthy, plain but delicious" home made gnocchi!
ronelle

Monet said...

I'm all about down to earth cooking. As for these gnocchi? They look and sound just delicious. Thank you for sharing them with me. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Miri Leigh said...

Great idea here! Thanks for sharing- these look delicious!

Torviewtoronto said...

this looks wonderful delicious gnocchi

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Splendid! Those gnudi look amazing . a speciality I adore.

Cheers,

Rosa