Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)

January 20, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Leetle
  • karin.anderson.52
  • Cassandra Campbell
    Cassandra Campbell
  • Nori Heikkinen
    Nori Heikkinen
  • daisybrain

57 Reviews

judyschwab March 4, 2023
Can the dumplings be frozen? Cooked or uncooked?
jencordes February 5, 2022
These were fantastic. I used 21 ounces of baby spinach (a one pound package + a 5 ounce package). I boiled water and then turned it off an added the spinach for 2-3 minutes. I strained it in a colander, pressing it multiple times with a spoon and then wrung it out completely in a flour sack towel. I strained ricotta in a coffee filter. The filter was wet but a had minimal leakage. Everything else was measured and followed as indicated by the recipe. I did use gf flour and refrigerated them for an hour. Mine held together beautifully. Do not boil them. Simmer them at a low(ish) temp. The only thing I’d change next time is not to use 4 T butter when sautéing the spinach. I think olive oil here would have been fine. Too much butter for my waistline.
VIPfood52 January 29, 2022
These are absolutely delicious. I love the recipes from the Time-Life cookbooks.
Leetle May 2, 2021
They were perfect!
karin.anderson.52 March 5, 2021
I made the gnocchi twice - the first time they came out perfect and I gave them five stars in my recipe program. The second time they quickly desintegrated in the water, and were a complete loss. I made them both times exactly the same way, squeezed the water from the spinach, cooked them in very gently simmering water.
Being completely baffled, I came up with the only difference: the brand of ricotta I used. The ricotta I used the second time must have contained more water. In another recipe for ricotta gnocchi I found the urgent advice to DRAIN the ricotta in a milk cloth lined strainer for several hours (or overnight) before using - otherwise they would fall apart!
Cassandra C. February 28, 2021
Amazingly lucky first try. No disintegration here. My friend asked for the recipe!

Used 1 16 ounce bag of frozen spinach. Let it cook a long while on the stove - simmering on x-lo while I did stuff around the house to evaporate the liquid.

I used a lot of flour when shaping - after chilling shaped snakes with the dough and used my bench scraper to cut off the pieces.

Definitely adding these to the rotation!
Nori H. July 7, 2020
These were fantastic. Chilled for 50 minutes; cooked as directed in simmering water, and they held together great. Then followed the treatment suggested by a similar NYT recipe (which is how I found this one:, and tossed these with zucchini & halved cherry tomatoes sautéed in butter, and basil & extra Parmesan (no broiling though). Totally delicious; I'll do this again next time my no-dairy husband is out of town! 😉
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.
girlie0219 March 25, 2020
How long did you steam them for?
judyschwab May 21, 2021
Another way to drain spinach (and other water laden vegetables) is an old hack from Julia Child. She used a potato ricer. I first saw her use it to press the moisture out of mushrooms for duxelles. Works like a charm!
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.
jencordes November 26, 2022
Hi Sing- I’d like to make these again and try steaming them. Can you tell me approximately how long you steamed them for?
Juan July 20, 2017
I've made the recipe and it went perfectly well.
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.
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

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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.