Or, more prettily in Italian: Rotolo di Gnocchi con Spinaci. The original recipe is from Autumn in Piemonte: Food and Travels in Italy’s Northwest, by Manuela Darling-Gansser.
I made this recipe last weekend, with logistics help and moral support from Elph and a couple friends who were over! It was a bit tricky, so I’ll post the recipe first, with pictures at the end once you have more of an idea what the process was. My comments on the recipe are in blue.
For the potatoes:
4-1/2 lbs floury potatoes, boiled
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
7-10 ounces flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill General Purpose Gluten-Free flour)
3-1/2 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
10 sage leaves
For the Filling:
9 ounces ricotta
2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 organic egg
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
9 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
(I found that my gnocchi roll was enormous – 15 inches long and about 6 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches high. Next time I make this, I will try using half the amounts listed above!)
Put the spinach out on the counter to thaw ahead of time. (Once thawed, I squeezed it quite a bit to get out excess water.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the potatoes until just done.
(Later in the recipe it says to saute the garlic and spinach in butter in a frying pan; I did it while the potatoes were cooking rather than having to do it later.)
(Also, you will need more boiling water to cook the gnocchi in, so keep another pot on the stove and bring water to a boil so you have it when you need it.)
While the potatoes are still hot, peel them and push them through a potato ricer. Now add the salt, eggs, and gradually, the flour. The amount of flour will depend on the kind of potato you use, but remember that the less flour you use, the softer the gnocchi will be. The dough should be soft, but not stick to your hands. (I used about 8 ounces of gluten-free flour.)
With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until about 1 inch thick. (I did this on a piece of parchment paper to make it easier to move later.) Mix ricotta, Parmigiano, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl and then spread it evenly on top of dough. In a frying pan melt a little butter and lightly cook garlic. Mix the spinach with the butter and garlic, cook a few more minutes, and then spread this on top of the ricotta mixture.
Roll the gnocchi dough, ricotta, and spinach into a sausage. Wrap the sausage tightly in cheesecloth or muslin, tie each end, and boil in salted water for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
(This was the tricky part. Using the parchment paper, we folded in the two sides to the middle as best we could – it was too thick to roll it up into a sausage shape. Then it took two of us to carefully lift the parchment paper and slide the “sausage” on to the large square of cheesecloth. I wrapped it and tied the ends with cooking (cotton) twine. Then two of us carefully lifted it into my roasting pan, set across two stove-top burners with boiling water in it. My roasting pan was the only thing large enough! It was not ideal since the water did not come all the way over the top, but we filled it as high as we could, and boiled it 15 minutes. Then two of us very carefully lifted it out, using various kitchen implements, and let it cool some. )
Preheat oven to 400F. Butter an ovenproof dish that will hold the roll comfortably, and carefully put the roll in it. With a sharp knife, cut it into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then dot with cubed butter and spread sage leaves evenly over the slices. Cook in oven until golden-brown, about 15 minutes. (I used a cookie sheet since its the only thing it would easily fit on. It was a bit hard to cut, I wiped the knife blade clean between each cut.)
Getting the slices apart when serving was a bit tricky too, but again if I wiped the spatula clean between each piece it helped. I served this with two other dishes from the same cookbook: Cipolle Rosse al Forno (baked red onions) and Cavolo con Acciughe (cabbage with anchovies). I have to admit we did not have a Piedmontese red wine to go with, but the hearty chianti we did have went very well. It was a delicious meal, and we definitely earned our dinner! PHOTOS follow.