Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pinwheel Gnocchi

This is a recipe that I've had for years and years..... at least 20. I don't remember where I got it from (maybe Sunset? or Bon Appetite) who knows. I have never seen anything quite like it since. Basically a potato gnocchi in a jelly roll format with a spinach cheese filing baked in the oven. Some people hoard recipes as if they were State secrets. My opinion is that recipes are to be shared for everyone to enjoy. Spread the wealth....and the calories.

Pinwheel Gnocchi

1 pkg frozen chopped spinach thawed
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs Idaho baking potatoes
2 eggs beaten
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp melted butter

Make the filling: squeeze the moisture from the thawed spinach. Combine with the ricotta and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Mix in the spices and set aside. You can refrigerate until ready to use, but do bring to room temperature for easy spreading.

Dough: Peel the potatoes and leave them whole. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender or a skewer can be inserted, but NOT falling apart. Drain and toss the potatoes around back in the hot pan until the surface is dry. (This is how you should always treat potatoes that you are going to mash otherwise you will have watery potatoes). Let the potatoes cool just until you can handle them. Cut up if necessary and rice or mash very well. Builds up those biceps and reminds me of the "we must, we must we must improve our bust" exercises we did in school.

Add the beaten eggs to the slightly warm riced potatoes. (too warm and your eggs will scramble so be careful) Quickly, blend in 2 and 3/4 cups of the flour and mix to form a soft dough. The flour will bring down the temperature of the potatoes.

Knead, adding just enough of the rest of the flour to keep the dough from sticking. Roll out into a 15 inch square. Spread with the filling. Roll up jelly roll fashion and wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour to let it firm up.

Butter a large shallow casserole dish. Cut the gnocchi into 1 inch thick pieces. Lay in the pan overlapping shingles. It may take several rows depending on the size of your pan. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes until the tops are just turning a light golden brown.

Some tips. Don't handle the dough any more than you must or it will get tough. Add the potatoes while still warm. I use a potato ricer to 'mash' the potatoes. A very handy tool that I highly recommend. Every kitchen should have one. Because the potatoes will vary in size it's best to start will a smaller amount of flour than to add all of it at once and end up with dry floury dough. The delicate sweet flavor of the potatoes is what you want to come through. No salt in the dough......resist the impulse.

To cut the dough roll, use a serrated knife and clean off between cuts if the dough is sticking to the blade.

If you like (and I do because you just can't have enough ricotta and Parmesan cheese) you can make the filling recipe a bit larger., even doubled. Finely minced ham or prosciutto is also good in the filling. A little extra butter on top of each slice doesn't hurt either when serving.

These are a nice side dish for an Italian style roasted chicken. I also like the pinwheels fried in butter in the morning with eggs for breakfast.

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