Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lambs quarter gnudi

Lighter than gnocchi, but rich, feathery and filling. Sometimes I call them malfatti, sometimes gnudi - but always inspired by the day in, day out spinach malfatti at Al di la on Brooklyn's 5th Avenue. Once, the Frenchman ordered two courses of them. 

You can obviously use fresh or frozen spinach for gnudi (fresh is softer, less watery and less fibrous). You can use chard, too. But they are very good with lamb quarters, in late spring and again in fall when mown lambs quarters experience a tender green resurgence.

Gnudi Verde - serves 2

If using lambs quarters, remove the leaves from any tough stems. 

8 oz/225 gr cooked lambs quarters or spinach, squeezed dry (about 2lbs/1kg fresh)
1 cup ricotta
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs, or coarse crumbs
1 egg
½ cup finely, freshly grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour for dusting and rolling

Cook the lambs quarters or spinach after washing,  putting the wet leaves in a pot with a lid and no extra water, over high heat. They will wilt and reduce radically in volume. Turn a couple of times with tongs to redistribute the leaves as the lower ones collapse. When tender, transfer to a colander and run under cold water. Squeeze handfuls, till as dry as possible. It helps to wring them out inside a clean cloth, getting every drop of water out. Chop the leaves finely.

In a mixing bowl, combine the lambs quarters/spinach, ricotta, breadcrumbs, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir thoroughly. Chill for 20 minutes (not you, the mixture).

Remove the mixture from the fridge and scoop into rough balls using two spoons, one to dip, the other to scrape off. Deposit each ball onto a flour-dusted board. Roll each ball gently between your palms or on the board, into oblongs about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide. I dent each one gently along its length with a finger. Put each finished piece onto a plate, also dusted lightly with flour. Once you have used all your mixture, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or more. This makes them easier to cook.

In a large pot or pots, boil salted water and drop the gnudi in one at a time till there are about 12 on the bottom of the pot. Keep the water simmering. When the gnudi rise to the surface remove (gently) at once to a warm plate and keep warm while the others cook.

Make the quick sauce while the gnudi are cooking.

Mugwort or Sage Butter Sauce

3 Tablespoons butter
Handful of fresh mugwort or sage leaves
1 gentle squeeze of fresh lemon juice, less than a tablespoon
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan

Melt butter, add sage, cook gently (you may allow it to turn barely brown), squeeze the lemon, add salt and pepper. Cook till the mugwort or sage is crisp. Pour over plated gnocchi, sprinkle parmesan at once and eat at once.

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