Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)

January 20, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This recipe comes from Time Life Books' "Recipes: The Cooking of Italy," which was published in their Foods of the World set (1968). Sarah Jampel

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 15 min


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted completely, squeezed dry of all moisture, and chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups), or 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry, and chopped
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
In This Recipe


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost all of the moisture has boiled away and the spinach starts to stick to the skillet.
  2. Add the ricotta and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 more minutes.
  3. Transfer the spinach-ricotta mixture to a large mixing bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix in eggs, flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan,1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the mixture is quite firm.
  4. Preheat the broiler and bring 6 to 8 quarts of water, seasoned with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, to a boil over medium heat in a large pot. Flour your hands lightly and shape the chilled gnocchi into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Drop the gnocchi gently into the simmering water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until they puff slightly and are somewhat firm. Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a towel to dry.
  5. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a shallow, ovenproof dish and swirl it around to evenly distribute. Arrange the gnocchi in one layer across the bottom, leaving about 1/4 inch between each one. Dribble the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over top, then sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the cheese melts and is golden brown.
  6. Serve at once, with additional grated cheese if desired.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Italian|Ricotta|Spinach|Vegetable|Nutmeg|Winter|Appetizer|Hors D'Oeuvre|Snack|Entree

Reviews (47) Questions (0)

47 Reviews

daisybrain August 20, 2018
I did look at all the comments before I made this dish and so took the precaution of steaming the dumplings rather than boiling them. I figured it would be just as simple and I'd save myself the frustration of having them fall apart. The results were excellent. I did notice that there was some discussion about the spinach and how to remove all the moisture. One person put the spinach in a colander and pressed it with a spoon. Some suggested a salad spinner. I dry greens a lot for various recipes and use this same method when making nut milks. I used two 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach. I lined a colander with a clean kitchen cloth and allowed the spinach to defrost fully. Then I gathered the thing up and squeeeeeeeeezed it out twisting and twisting until I had a tight ball of insanely dry previously frozen spinach. When you put it in the pan there is no liquid left to evaporate. I'm sorry if I'm preaching to the choir but ya never know so I shared.
SCalabretta February 9, 2018
I followed Sing's example and steamed the gnocchi instead of attempting to boil them. I used my bamboo steamer, and they came out delicious!
Sing S. January 23, 2018
My test dumpling fell apart pretty much as soon as it hit the water--I probably didn't chill the dough enough. Or there was too much moisture in the greens. Or subbing kale for spinach doesn't work. Or...there are a million variables. In any case, I steamed the remaining dumplings, and it worked perfectly.
Juan July 20, 2017
I've made the recipe and it went perfectly well.<br />If you had any problem with the recipe is because you did something wrong. I think that maybe the key is being patience enough to wait all the moisture of the spinach to dry.<br />The proportions of the ingredients work perfectly fine for me.
rldougherty May 1, 2017
I read through the recipe and I read through the comments. I tried to dry my spinach as much as possible. I chilled the mixture for longer than an hour, compacted it into dumplings and put them in the freezer. I had the water at a "poaching egg simmer." Let's just say we ended up having a version of creamed spinach. Be warned if you try this recipe, it doesn't work for the majority of us it seems. I think the dumplings need more flour and egg, and spinach that should be dried for a day or so.
DeeJ April 20, 2016
I made these last nite, in a rush, refrigerated for only 20 min...and came out really well (considering). Yes, don't boil water too briskly. Next time I think will compact each dumpling while forming. Will def. make again!
Dan April 28, 2015
Made these last night. Glad I didn't read the comments first, I might have gotten scared off. I didn't have any problems with them falling apart. I did stick them back in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, after forming the balls, because they seemed a bit too sticky and the dough/batter wasn't as firm as I expected after the hour cooling. Next time I'll add bacon/pancetta to the mix to see how that tastes.
Oat&Sesame April 19, 2015
I've+made+these+a+few+times+and+boiling+them+too+vigorously+does+break+them+down+a+bit.+These+are+one+of+my+new+favorites!++I+made+them+for+my+neighbor's+triplet+four+year+old+boys+and+they+loved+them.++<br /><br />I'm+working+on+a+lemony+kale+version+for+my+blog+as+I+write+this!++
julianna K. April 16, 2015
Yes...if the water is boiling too rapidly things can fall apart- think poached eggs or anything delicate.
RoastedBeet April 16, 2015
There had been a lot of discussion about the consistency of the dumplings, but I wonder if the temperature of the water makes an important difference. IOW, if the dumplings are put in when the water is at a rapid boil, might they be more likely to come apart? anyone have thoughts?
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 16, 2015
That's a great point! I think that if the water is boiling too vigorously, it will disturb the delicate dumplings.
Jewell N. April 16, 2015
Total failure!! Draind spinach for about 5 hours in collander squeezing often with spoon. Cooled in fridge 1 hour. Totally disintegrated when I put it in water. Not even going to waste my time or money on ingredients to try this again.
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 16, 2015
Hi Jewell, I'm so, so sorry you had problems! As I've said, I've made this recipe successfully several times, but I'm aware that the disintegration can be an issue. I'm happy to troubleshoot with you.
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 16, 2015
I've also learned that the dumplings must be very compact—squeezed together super tightly—before they are boiled.
julianna K. April 15, 2015
So I read about all the failures( disintegrating) , upped the flour, super dried the spinach and voila! disintegration! So ,yes, I baked and that is OK but if the percent of failure is as high as these comments indicate, why not REMOVE this? That is one thing I do not like about this site. Otherwise, addicting.
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 15, 2015
Hi Julianna, So sorry you had trouble! I've made this recipe successfully several times, and we've also made it in our test kitchen with no problem. Many of the commenters seem to have loved the recipe, too, though a few did have trouble. I'm happy to troubleshoot with you, and sorry for any disappointment/frustration.
Todd S. April 14, 2015
This recipe is not written well. The first step includes melting "the butter" and "adding spinach to the pan". Then, in step 5, 2 tbsp of the butter is to be added to the baking dish and the remaining 2 tbsp are for topping the dumplings. My learning is that I should read a recipe all the way through before cooking, but as written, the recipe is very misleading!
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 14, 2015
Hi Todd, Sorry for the confusion. The ingredients in the list come in the order in which you use them.
Todd S. April 14, 2015
Hi Sarah. Order is not the issue. The recipe calls for 4 tbsp of butter which are melted in step 1. The butter should be removed and set aside for use in step 5 correct? As it reads now, seems like the butter should become part of the dumpling mixture.
Todd S. April 14, 2015
OK, I see now that 4 tbsp of butter is listed twice meaning 8 tbsp (entire stick) in total. My bad.
Mamazz April 13, 2015
I got started late on this so I took several shortcuts:1) I defrosted the spinach in hot water and then squeezed as much water as I quickly could and just let the rest cook off 2) I only let it set in the fridge for 25 minutes 3) I skipped the boiling and when right to the broiler for 4 minutes (so glad I read the comments about this)- Well, it was absolutely fabulous, light on the inside, crispy on the outside, with wonderful flavor- a new family favorite!
Meghan D. April 11, 2015
Epic fail! Followed recipe but gnocchi completely disentegrated in the water. Not sure where I went wrong. Now I need to figure out what to do with a ton of soggy spinach. Should have definitely done a test first. So sad.
RoastedBeet April 12, 2015
Bummer. This happened when my mom tried the recipe and she just let the spinach mixture cook in the water, scooped it out, and reformed the gnocchi before putting it into the broiler. The next time she made it she added another egg and a bit more flour and they held together.
Anna N. April 7, 2015
This was a delicious recipe! I took the advice of the reviews and worked hard to get the water out of the spinach. It definitely did the trick. I boiled the gnocchi liked instructed (even though I thought they were going to fall apart), but they didn't and I believe is what gave it the gnocchi like texture. I would definitely make these again!
PaolaSucato March 10, 2015
Making the spinach gnocchi is very easy and it’s a great idea to replace the classic gnocchi made of potato and flour. I love this recipe that goes well with any type of sauce, first of all melted butter and grated parmigiano cheese.
Scoobs April 9, 2015
Hi Paola, this is a bit off-topic but it is gnocchi. Look for a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi. You may replace your potato gnocchi with that after trying it. Far easier than potato gnocchi. Cheers!
Katharine S. March 6, 2015
Absolutely loved this recipe. Despite the time put into making sure the spinach was sufficiently dry, it was a very easy and yet impressive meal. Quick question- Can you freeze these? I'm thinking of freezing after they cool and before they are cooked. Has anyone had success?
Scoobs March 6, 2015
Katharine, they freeze wonderfully: cooked or not. I make a batch and freeze some because one batch is too much. Don;t put too much "effort" into the drying, just time. Blanch to wilt but don't cook the greens: soft greens like spinach blanch in 20 seconds, tougher greens longer. Use a salad spinner or the ol' spinning towel trick (outside!). Then lay the greens in a thin layer between towels, press them and let sit for 15-20+ minutes. Combine ingredients and set in the fridge for 1/2 hr+ uncovered. Making the little mice with cooled mixture is much easier (as Msophelia suggests too). Also, after forming the little mice I cool them again and use a large slotted spool (chinese one that can hold 6+ mice) to gently set in the water. The cooling combined with air drying time reduces work! Lazy scoobs. Cheers!
Anna February 9, 2015
You could try something extravagant - put those into a bowl of chicken soup instead of matzo ball dumplings. I don't know if it's kosher, but it's very tasty!
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 15, 2015
Wow that's an amazing idea.
Rachael February 1, 2015
These turned out pretty well. I skipped boiling them and went straight to the broiler. It worked perfectly!
RoastedBeet February 1, 2015
How long did you broil?