Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

Although this recipe sounds intimidating and does require some time it is so worth it! This recipe is unbelievably good. The gnocchi came out so light and fluffy and not dense and heavy like some. You can make this ahead of time so I recommend trying this on a weekend!

2 ounces fresh spinach chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup for recipe, ¾ cup reserve for dusting)
Pinch of nutmeg
1.      The recipe I adapted this from calls for imported dry ricotta cheese but I used regular ricotta it just requires some extra steps. Place it in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate and let drain 3 to 4 hours to remove excess moisture.

2.      In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, salt and nutmeg until thoroughly blended.  Add flour a ¼ cup at a time not adding more than a cup. You are trying to get it to resemble dough and not sticky but mine was still sticky. I don’t roll mine out so it still works.Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip or a large plastic resealable bag, and refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes.

(I added some fork marks)
      4. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup of flour over a rimmed baking sheet or large cutting board. Remove dough from refrigerator. If using a resealable bag, cut a small hole in one lower corner of the bag. Pipe a 1-inch ball onto your fingers. Gently roll ball in flour until evenly dusted. Repeat process with remaining dough and flour. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

         At this point I froze mine as is on the baking sheet. After an hour or so cook (directions below) or if not cooking right away transfer to a freezer bag and can be stored up to 1 month.

1.       Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add gnocchi. Cook until outside of gnocchi is cooked and somewhat firm and the inside is still soft, 3 to 5 minutes. They will float when done. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a plate with a ladle full of your favorite tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

How to Use Different Types of Salt

Kosher Salt is unrefined, so its natural minerals come through, and it tends to have a milder salty zing than table salt. Use your fingers: “It’s coarser, so pinching it allows you to tell exactly how much you’re using, unlike pouring from a shaker,” says Carla Hall, a Top Chef finalist who owns Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C. Because of density differences, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon table salt, use about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Best for: all-purpose savory cooking. “It’s my go-to ingredient,” Hall says. Kosher salt also dissolves a bit more slowly than table salt, so wait a minute before tasting your dish.

Sea Salt comes in multiple varieties—some flaky, some fine, some coarse. “Texture and flavor depend on the mineral content of the sea it’s derived from,” says Michael Psilakis, the chef/owner of Kefi in New York City. He suggests sampling a few to find one you love. Since saltiness varies, use less salt than the recipe calls for until you get used to it.

Best for: sprinkling over hot food just before serving. A chef favorite: Maldon sea salt, which has a mild flavor and a flaky consistency that melts right in. For flavoring pasta water or brining meats, coarse sea salts are ideal—they have a stronger salty flavor than others.

Flavored Salt can be fun to experiment with, but it can also be pricey and hard to find. Making your own is easy and inexpensive—plus you can customize the blend. Here’s how: “Next time you have leftover vegetables, dry them out in the oven on low heat for a few hours,” Hall says. “Then grind them in a spice grinder with some kosher salt.”

Table Salt is the most refined of all salts because the natural minerals have been stripped away, giving it a sharper, straight-up salty taste. It’s usually treated to prevent clumping, so you can store it for a while.

Best for: baking, where uniform grain size is needed for precise measuring.

Courtesy of EveryDay with Rachel Ray article By Robert Firpo-Cappiello | Photography by Lucas Zarebinski

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

3 medium size potatoes peeled
(if using redskins feel free to leave the skin on)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat potatoes
¼ cup parmesan cheese (I prefer kraft over fresh for this it sticks better)
Spice mix including: Onion powder, Garlic powder, Paprika, Cayenne pepper, Salt and Pepper.
(1/4 tablespoon of each)

If grilling heat grill to medium, if baking preheat oven to 400. You can do fries, wedges or discs for this recipe, I decided to discs this time and I’m baking because weather is not permitting! Slice disc ¼ inch thick.

Mix spices and add cheese. Place sliced potatoes in a bowl and coat them with the olive oil. You want to make sure you do this before you put any of the spices or cheese on so they will stick. Toss with spices and cheese ensuring all slice are covered.

*Baking: Bake 30-45 minutes or until tender and lightly golden brown or crispier depending on how you want them (Baking times will vary depending on the amount of fries that you make and the size that you cut them)I tend to shake the pan around or flip half way through to make sure both sides get crispy.

*Grilling: Place potatoes on grill in a single layer and close lid to ensure they get cooked through. After approximately 10 minutes or when a deep grill mark has set in flip and lower heat. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until tender. 

Lasagna Roll Ups

Most are familiar with lasagna but this is a twist on the classic dish. I roll the ingredients up in the noddles instead of stacking them. It tends to stay together a bit more than my normal layered lasagna and is just as easy. Also try mixing it up by using different fillings, such as mushrooms or eggplant!
Ingredients-yields 2-4 servings
¼ lb ground beef
¼ of and onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
16 oz of your favorite tomato sauce or your usual homemade sauce
*depending what you use may need to add some oregano or some basil to give it some extra flavor

1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg (lightly beaten)
¼ cup fresh spinach chopped
8 lasagna noodles cooked
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese optional
Salt and pepper

Directions- Preheat oven to 375*
1.      Brown ground beef in a large skillet, add onions and garlic. Once browned add tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt or pepper or anything else if needed. Remove from heat, and spoon a little of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, to prevent noodles from sticking.
2.      Combine ricotta, parmesan, spinach and egg; season with salt and pepper. Lay out lasagna noodles and spread approximately 1/3 cup of filling on to each noodle. Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella if desired
3.      Bake covered with tinfoil for 30 to 35 min. Last 5 min remove tinfoil. Serve hot and garnish with parsley.