Thursday, 21 July 2011

Recipe corner – Spinach, ricotta and roasted tomato gnocchi bake

Catchy title, eh?

It struck me that a lot of the recipes listed in this blog are of the ooey-gooey, stodgy variety, often featuring some sort of cheese, and this bake is no different. I wonder if it is reflective of the way I eat – I don’t think so. Our daily diet is pretty varied. I suppose one of the reasons I started this blog is that I wanted to prove to myself as well as other people that following a healthy eating plan didn’t mean permanently going down the steamedchickenorfishandveg or stir fry route, so I like to share recipes that tick both the WW appropriate and the indulgence box. Which is not to say that I do not eat stir fries. I don’t generally eat steamedchickenorfishandveg though. It doesn’t sound overly interesting.

Anyway, back to the bake. I cooked this for tea last night and thought it was scrummy. Ricotta and spinach are an absolutely classic combination but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to use them with gnocchi had it not been for this recipe here. Ricotta is significantly lower in fat than mascarpone, but a good substitute to my mind.

I added the roasted tomatoes partly because I wanted to give this rich, creamy dish a bit of acidity and partly as a nod to one of the most popular (judging by page visits) recipes on this blog, the ricotta and roasted tomato risotto. I’m glad I did – the little bursts of freshness really worked well.

Incidentally, this recipe (which serves two) calls for half a tub of ricotta – I’ve found that it freezes perfectly well so the other half needn’t go to waste. OR you could make risotto the next day should you feel so inclined…


250g potato gnocchi (one day I will make my own, but shop bought sufficed here)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
125g ricotta cheese
Several large handfuls of fresh spinach
Lemon zest
20g Parmesan
125g ball reduced fat mozzarella, sliced

Serves 2, 11 pro points each

The first thing you want to do is roast your tomatoes. Cut them in half and sit them, seed side up, on a baking sheet. Season well, drizzle with balsamic and put in a medium oven (say, 150) for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how dehydrated you want them (the longer they are in, the more intense the flavour).

To prepare your spinach and ricotta sauce, soften the onion and the garlic over a low heat (I used a small splash of water to save points, but you could use a little oil if you feel so inclined) then add the spinach and cover. Allow to wilt for a couple of minutes. Then stir in the ricotta. Add lemon zest to taste (I used about a third of a large lemon) and good grating of nutmeg, black pepper, half the Parmesan cheese and salt if required. Simples.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling, salted water – they will float to the top of the pan when ready. Combine the gnocchi with the sauce (gently, to avoid breaking up the dumplings). Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan and crush them lightly with the back of the spoon so they bleed a little of their juice into the creamy ricotta.

Tip the gnocchi into a baking dish and cover with the sliced mozzarella. Bake in a hot oven (180) for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan.


  1. oh sounds so yummy!!! i've never made potato gnocchi from scratch before...but I do like making it from ricotta...yum yum yum i am hungry just thinking about this meal!!!! :)

  2. I love the idea of the ricotta instead of the mascarpone. Although I love mascarpone, it IS high in fat and I've been trying to avoid doing that. I hadn't thought of ricotta, so I'll definitely go that way in future! :) Well done, you!