Gnocchi Verde is light and tasty spinach stuffed dumplings usually accompanied by a tomato and cream sauce which add both flavour and colour to the dish. Gnocchi Verde is also called ‘Ravioli Malfatti’. This Italian specialty may be served as a side dish; a vegetarian entree or presented as the first course in a traditional Italian meal.
Ingredients and Preparation
Fresh Spinach leaves are cleaned, de-stemmed and plunged into boiling water for a brief while before rinsing in cold water. These are drained and then chopped. In a skillet with little melted butter, the spinach is sautéed till it dries and ricotta cheese is blended in. Flour, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, fresh ground pepper and nutmeg are stirred in and then set aside to cool and firm. In a large pan, salt water is brought to boil. Spinach mixture is shaped gently rolled in flour, patted and then dropped into the boiling salt water one by one. The dumplings or ‘gnocchi’ are cooked till they rise to the surface and appear slightly puffed. They are removed using a slotted spoon, placed on a paper towel before serving hot alongside tomato and cream sauce.
Tomato and cream sauce is prepared by melting butter in a skillet, sautéing chopped onion, carrot, and celery, cooking tomatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper and sugar. This is cooked till vegetables soften, then cooled and blended in a food processer. It is then cooked once again till thick and saucy in consistency. Finally fresh cream is stirred in to give the sauce a creamy feel and it is poured over the spinach dumplings and garnished with grated Parmesan and fresh basil/sage leaves.
Owing to the high cream and cheese content, the dish is obviously high in quality protein, fat and Calcium. However the spinach constituent balances it out by supplying fibre, Vitamins A, folate, and iron. Tomatoes add lycopene, folate and carotenoids.
On an average, a serving of Gnocchi Verde ~ 125 g would deliver:
• 263.5 calories with 103.8 calories from fat
• Total Fat content of 11.0 g with 4.8 g saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat of 0.9 g and monounsaturated fat of 4.3 g.
• Cholesterol of 131.3 mg.
• Sodium 800.3 mg and Potassium 441.6 mg
• Total carbohydrate content of 22.8 g with dietary fibre content of 5.2 g and 1.9 g sugars.
• Protein content of 21.2 g.
• Based on % daily values - 44.0 % calcium, 15.7 % iron, 82 % manganese, 36.5 % selenium and 14. 1 % zinc.
• Using low-fat versions of the cheese and cream would help lower the total fat and cholesterol content.
• Salt should be added with caution as the cheese has a fair amount of it. Salt-free butter may be used.
• Addition of fresh mushroom would be a good low-calorie way of increasing the natural Vitamin D content of the dish as Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and utilization. It also offers multiple health benefits.