Spinach Gnocchi Nudi with Vodka Sauce

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I used to never like gnocchi. It always felt like a big lump in my stomach and in comparison to the simplicity of pasta, it was a clear second. That all changed once I tried the homemade stuff. Then we took Iole’s “Gnocchi Workshop” at PCC and discovered the “nudi” variety. Who knew that gnocchi could be made without a single potato and could be so pillowy and delicious? The Following is Iole’s recipe from our class, along with a variation on Ina Garten’s Vodka Sauce. Enjoy!

Vodka Sauce:
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vodka
1 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
5-6 Torn basil leaves
Grated parmesan cheese

Gnocchi:
10 oz. whole milk ricotta
14 oz. fresh spinach
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup flour, plus more for rolling
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp. salt for cooking

For the Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 375˚. Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they’re translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano and cook for several minutes more, until the garlic has softened. Add the vodka and reduce by half. Then add the tomatoes – you can either tear them with your fingers as you add them to the pan, or simply use your spoon to break them apart. Add salt and pepper, then pour the mixture into an oven-safe – preferably enamel or ceramic – dish with a heavy lid. Bake for at least 45 minutes. We prefer our tomato sauces to be a little chunky, so we remove 1 cup of the mixture before using an immersion blender on the remainder until it’s very smooth. Finally, add back the tomatoes and onions, along with the cream and basil.

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While the sauce is cooling, blanch the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds or so. Drain and run under cool water. Squeeze until very dry in cheese cloth (a clean dish towel will also work) and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, cooked spinach, egg, egg yolk, flour, pepper, nutmeg, and parmesan.

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With two small spoons, form small oblong shapes and drop onto a plate of flour.

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Roll until all sides are evenly coated.

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Once the water is boiling, drop the gnocchi into the pot and remove once they begin floating to the top (about 1 minute). Serve immediately with the vodka sauce and grated parmesan.

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