2 lb. spinach, stemmed and rinsed well
1/4 cup water
Sea salt, to taste, plus 2 Tbs.
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 3/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
In a saucepan, combine the spinach, water and a pinch of salt. Cover, place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the spinach and let cool, then squeeze to extract the excess liquid. Finely chop the spinach and set aside.
In a small fry pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the onion and sauté until tender and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the ricotta, 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the eggs and the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion and spinach and stir well. Stir in the flour until well blended and a soft dough forms.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up 1 Tbs. of the dough and, with dampened hands, lightly shape it into a ball 3/4 inch in diameter. Place the ball on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure the balls don’t touch each other.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil and add the 2 Tbs. salt. Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Grease a shallow 3-quart gratin or baking dish with 2 Tbs. of the butter.
Reduce the heat under the water so it is at a steady simmer. Carefully add half of the gnocchi to the pot and cook, stirring gently once or twice, until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the prepared dish. Cook the remaining gnocchi in the same way and add them to the dish.
Cut the remaining 2 Tbs. butter into bits and dot the surface of the gnocchi evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the bread crumbs. Bake until the butter is sizzling and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).