Ricotta Gnocchi


Despite owning a pasta maker, I’ve never made my own homemade pasta. It’s more than a little intimidating. I did it once with my dad when I was a kid, but remember it taking a really, really long time. To face my fear, I signed up for a pasta making class in February. I’m hoping my Italian roots make me a natural.

In the meantime I tried out this gnocchi recipe that I adapted from a recipe I learned at a food festival in Boston. For all of you who are afraid of making pasta at home (like me), this is a perfect starter recipe. It’s also great for date night – it’s hands on, takes less than 45 minutes to prepare, and is easy enough that you can make a protein or side dish at the same time.

I don’t eat a lot of gnocchi, but thought these were good enough to share. Luckily I made this meal with a self-proclaimed gnocchi enthusiast – and he gave these the stamp of approval. Buon appetito!

Ricotta Gnocchi

Combine 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup part-skim ricotta, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Roll into logs and cut into 1 inch pieces. Heat a pot of water to a slow boil and cook gnocchi in small batches for about 5 minutes, or until they float to the top. sauté in a large pan in 1 tablespoon of butter. Pictured above with hot Italian sausage and sautéed spinach.

Yield: 4 servings. Serving size: 1/3 cup. Per serving (gnocchi only): $0.43, 253 calories, 8g fat, 36.5g carbs, 10.5g protein.

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna Rolls

Anything served in a pan (brownies, casserole, and, in this instance, lasagna) comes with risk of overeating. You start by cutting yourself a reasonably sized piece and enjoy every last cheesy, saucy bite… and just want one more taste. So you go back to the pan and cut yourself a tiny little sliver more just so you can have one more bite. And then you have one more tiny little piece, and another, and another… and by the end you’ve had three times as much as you first put on your plate. It’s inevitable.

To save yourself from over-indulging, try this creative take on lasagna; rather than layering everything in the pan, the lasagna noodles are rolled up with the filling inside. For this reason, you need to use traditional lasagna noodles rather than the ready-to-bake version. It’s a little messier to prepare, but much easier to serve (and control) – just portion out 2 rolls per person.

This is a perfect recipe for entertaining. Not only will it impress your friends, it’s easy to prepare in advance.  Assemble the rolls but instead of baking, pop them in the fridge. 45 minutes before dinner – while your guests are enjoying wine and apps – throw the lasagna in the oven. You can also prepare this recipe up to a month in advance and freeze it, defrosting it in the fridge the night before you’re expecting guests.

Serve with a fresh side salad, sautéed asparagus, or all alone. If you end up with too much filling and not enough noodles, whip up some eggs for a high-end scramble!

Butternut Squash, Kale and Turkey Lasagna Rolls

Cook 6 lasagna noodles according to package directions. When done, lay the noodles on greased cookie sheets so that they are not touching to avoid sticking together.

Steam 2 ½ cups of diced butternut squash until soft, about 10 minutes, and set aside. Steam 4 cups of kale until dark green, about 15 minutes. Sauté ½ cup diced onions in ½ tablespoon olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ½ pound ground turkey and saute until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mash squash and mix with ½ cup ricotta cheese and 1 egg until smooth.  Roughly chop kale.  Spray two bread pans with cooking spray.  Spread ricotta-squash mixture onto cooked lasagne rolls, top with kale, and then ground turkey-onion mixture.  Roll along the short side and place in pan with the open end down.  Repeat with remaining noodles, placing three rolls in each pan.  Top each bread pan with 6 tablespoons tomato sauce and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese, divided between the two pans.

Cover with tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes. If preparing from frozen, defrost the lasagna in the fridge overnight before baking.

Yield: 3 servings. Serving size: 2 rolls. Per Serving: $3.39, 506 calories, 15g fat, 77g carbs, 32g protein.