Kale & ricotta gnocchi in sage & bacon butter

Kale & ricotta gnocchi in sage & bacon butter

Gnocchi nudi in salsa di burro, salvia e pancetta

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6 as a starter / 4 as a main
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

In Florence, the name of these gnocchi literally means ‘nude’ gnocchi as they are like the spinach and ricotta stuffing that you find in ravioli only without their pasta clothes. Some call them strozzapreti, meaning ‘priest-stranglers’, as apparently they were given to priests in the days of the mezzadria (the feudal system of sharecropping), who were so greedy they almost choked on them. In Siena, they are known as malfatti, meaning ‘badly made’. If you don’t have kale, use 200 g of cooked and well-squeezed spinach or Swiss chard leaves instead. Serve them with the bacon, butter and sage sauce (omit the bacon for a vegetarian version), Memmo’s Beef Ragù or the Homemade Tomato Sauce.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the gnocchi

Quantity Ingredient
300g fresh curly kale or cavolo nero
or 200g cooked and thoroughly squeezed curly kale or cavolo nero leaves
250g ricotta, drained
100g grated parmesan or pecorino
1 egg
3 heaped tablespoons wheat or gluten-free flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the cooking water
freshly ground black pepper
25g grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve

For the bacon, butter and sage sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100g unsalted butter
150g unsmoked or smoked pancetta or bacon, cut into small strips
10 sage leaves
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, (optional)
30g pine nuts, toasted, (optional)

Method

  1. Start by making the gnocchi. If using fresh kale or cavolo nero, wash the leaves and pull away the tough stems. Roughly cut the leaves and boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. When cool enough to handle, thoroughly squeeze out the excess water from the kale (to the last drop!) and finely chop in a food processor (or by hand with a sharp knife on a board), then put into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients for the gnocchi to the kale and stir through to combine. The mixture should be firm enough to handle and not wet and sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour to the mix.
  3. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, making sure they are tightly packed so that they don’t break up in the water. As you prepare the balls, put them on a floured surface. You can keep them like this in the fridge, loosely covered, for up to a day if you want to prepare them in advance.
  4. Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a large frying pan. Add the bacon, sage leaves, salt and pepper (if using) and fry until the bacon is cooked through and the sage leaves are lightly browned. Add a ladleful of hot water and stir well. Leave the sauce over a very low heat while you cook the gnocchi.
  5. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium – unlike when cooking pasta, you want a slow rolling boil, not a rapid boil. Drop the gnocchi carefully into the boiling water. Let the water come back up to the boil and cook for 3–4 minutes until the gnocchi rise up to the surface. Let them bob around for a further minute, then carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and lower them gently into the butter sauce.
  6. Fry them in the sauce for a few minutes until lightly browned. Stir the pine nuts into the sauce, if using. Serve with extra grated Parmesan on top.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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