As the dog days of August morph into brisk September mornings, I am on the lookout for kid-friendly meals for our back to school issue. Also, cognizant that mom or dad does not want to be making multiple meals to cater to varied tastes and finicky eaters, I seek recipes to please the entire family. In my recipe for Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi, I think I have found a meal that fits the bill.

Gnocchi are Italian pasta-like dumplings. Ricotta gnocchi are the faster, easier, and, some would say, tastier counterpart to potato gnocchi. Kids just love their soft, light texture and mild flavoring, which is a great base for many sauces. I have added some sautéed spinach to the recipe to get some greens into your children’s diets. It is ok to leave the spinach out of the recipe, if necessary. Or, consider making half the gnocchi with spinach and half without.


If you’ve avoided making pasta or gnocchi recipes because of elaborate instructions and techniques, you’re in for a treat with this recipe, which will give you the satisfaction of making a homemade pasta-like dish from scratch in under half an hour.

I like to serve the spinach ricotta gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce (store bought is ok) and grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces baby spinach (prewashed)
  • 15-ounce container of ricotta
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 + cups of flour
  • tomato sauce (preferably homemade, but store bought is ok)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Place the spinach in the skillet and sauté until the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid in it has evaporated. Allow the spinach to cool, then place it in several layers of paper towels and squeeze out as much of the excess water in the spinach as possible. Finely chop the spinach.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the ricotta and eggs together. Add the spinach, and beat until mixed in. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined.

If the dough is too wet to work with, add another tablespoon or 2 of flour. Use a tablespoon to scoop up a rounded tablespoon of the dough. With your finger, gently slide the dough into the boiling water, so that it maintains a somewhat round or oval appearance. They will not be perfectly round or oval—that is ok.

Place as many of the gnocchi in the water as possible without crowding them. Allow the water to come to a boil again. After the gnocchi have risen to the top, boil for another 5 minutes. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon. Cool to room temperature.

Before serving the gnocchi, sauté in butter until just heated through. Serve with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 12 to 16 gnocchi.

September 2015