How To Make Gnocchi With Ricotta, Spinach, And Parmesan

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Here’s a classic traditional recipe, by Italian Chef Chicca Maione. She can even teach you the art of making gnocchi in person through her cooking classes (If you are looking for a great vacation).

One of her favorite dishes from Tuscany is “Gnudi” or spinach and ricotta gnocchi. “Gnudi” means “naked” and it refers to the fact that this delicious gnocchi is made with the ravioli filling; basically they are like ravioli without the pasta shell, so they are naked. They are made with spinach but she also likes to use wild greens from out in the field. She serves gnudi in the traditional way with butter, sage, and, her personal touch: a bit of lemon zest!

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Let’s Make Pasta!

Diet Considerations

  • Vegetarian

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 450gr / 1 lb blanched spinach (frozen or fresh) chopped and squeezed very dry at room temperature
  • 150gr / 1 cups all purpose flour
  • 450gr / 1 lb fresh ricotta, firm and drained
  • 150gr / 1 cups rice flour to roll the gnocchi (more if needed)
  • 150gr / 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 gr / 6 tbsp (3 oz) butter
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3 medium handfuls coarse sea salt
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves (1 ½ tsp chopped fresh or ½ tsp dried sage)
  • 1 lemon for zesting
  • Salt & ground black pepper


Prep Time: 40 minutes.

Cook Time: 20 minutes.

  1. Make your gnocchi dough

    Combine in a large mixing bowl:
    • blanched, squeezed spinach
    • half the Parmigiano cheese
    • all the all-purpose flour
    • ricotta
    • egg yolks
    • a pinch of nutmeg

    Mix with your hands until you get a smooth dough. Add fine salt and ground pepper to taste. If the mixture sticks to your hands, add more flour as needed. The dough doesn’t need to be worked for a long time, just enough to incorporate the flour into the ricotta and spinach. The mixture has to be quite moist but still hold together (think of cookie dough). At this stage, it is important to make sure that ricotta and spinach are very well-drained of excess liquid, which will help you to avoid adding too much flour, making your gnocchi gummy.

    Chef’s Note: As you practice making gnocchi, you will be able to sense more easily when the dough has enough flour. The first few times you may wish to roll out 2 – 3 test gnocchi and cook them before rolling out all your dough. If the gnocchi dissolve or are too mushy once cooked, you will want to add more flour to the dough. The final texture of your cooked gnocchi is a matter of personal preference (within limits). Add dough sparingly; remember: you can make them drier, but not wetter!

  2. Shape the gnocchi

    Put some of the rice flour on a baking sheet. Then, place the sheet near where you will be your pasta. Put your remaining rice flour in a bowl you can fit your hand in and place it next to your rolling area too.

    Your rolling area should be large and flat and have at least a little bit of roughness to it. A wooden cutting board works well. If the surface is too smooth, it’s difficult to roll out; too rough and your dough will catch and tear.

    With well-floured hands, take a piece from the dough and shape it into a rope about ¾ inch thick and 4’’ long. (If the roll won’t hold together, put it back into the dough, add more flour as needed, and work again.)

    Cut the roll along the rope from end to end into small pieces, the size of a small walnut. It is important to attempt to keep them all the same size so that cooking time is uniform. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Place the pieces on the floured baking sheet.

  3. Cook your pasta!

    To cook your gnocchi, you will need a small saucepan for the butter and sage and a large, wide pot to cook your gnocchi.

    Place the butter and sage in the small saucepan on the stove but don’t turn the heat on yet.

    Bring the water to a boil in a large pot and add the coarse sea salt once it’s boiling. Now that the water is boiling, you can start the heat under your butter. Keep the heat low. You do not want to brown the butter, just to melt it and infuse it with the sage. Turn off the heat when butter is melted and leave it with sage in until you are ready to use it.

    Put one-third of the gnocchi in the water and lower the heat until the water boils with small, calm bubbles that creep up the side. The cooking time is short – about two-three minutes! Gnocchi are ready when they float to the surface of the water. Be sure to taste test one before you drain.

    Scoop up the gnocchi with a small slotted spoon or drainer. Try to drain as much liquid as possible. The water will cool slightly with each new set of Gnocchi so make sure to keep monitoring the boiling level and taste testing before you drain the other two batches.

  4. Serve!

    You will layer each 1/3 of your gnocchi with melted butter and sage, Parmigiano, and lemon zest.

    Place the cooked gnocchi on a serving tray. Drizzle 1/3 of your melted butter and sage. Sprinkle Parmigiano and zest the lemon on top of each layer to your preference. It’s preferable to zest the lemon directly onto the dish. You can zest beforehand if you like, but the zest may clump together and will not taste as bright. Cook the rest of the gnocchi in batches as before and repeat the garnish. Serve as soon as possible.

Need Help?


Plan it into your week

The best way to remember to make it is to plan for it. Learn about meal prep through our article Meal Prep 101, by dietician Shannon Costello.


Print out the ingredient list

Need the ingredients list on hand? Simply pull up the article on your phone (it’s mobile compatible) or click here to print it out.


Email Chicca for help

Chicca’s here to help. If you need assistance with the recipe, email her at


Take the class

Feeling adventurous? Take a trip over to Italy and take the class, led by Chicca, on how to make gnocchi (as well as many other amazing dishes)!

Feeling really adventurous? Enjoy a week of classes and an authentic experience of life in Tuscany, Italy, through her all-inclusive Cooking Vacation.

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About the Author

Chicca Maione

Chicca Maione

Italian Chef

Chicca is a Tuscan-based architect and passionate chef of home-cooked food. After many years of cooking for family and friends, she found her calling: teaching people how to cook authentic homemade food while sharing recipes and stories about her incredible culture. She has spread the traditional-Italian and typical-Tuscan cuisine in Italy and abroad for the past 19 years.
Full Bio

* Recipe posted with permission from the author, Chicca Maione, at Cooking in Tuscany.

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