Unlike a lot of dumplings or ravioli-type creations, these "naked ravioli," as they are sometimes called in Italy, are as light and delicate as you'll find. The topping can be varied to suit your own taste, but I'm happy with plain old spaghetti sauce.

Spinach Gnocchi

Makes about 4 servings.



For gnocchi, squeeze as much excess water from the spinach as possible. Place in bowl with the eggs, ricotta cheese. all the grated or shredded cheese, 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well until completely combined. With flour-coated fingers, form the spinach-cheese mixture into 1-inch diameter balls, and immediately roll each ball into the extra flour. Shake off any excess. Place the flour-coated balls on a platter, not touching one another.

Meanwhile, heat about four quarts of water to boiling in a 6- to 8-quart pot or Dutch oven. Lower the heat so the water just simmers. Gently drop about a third of the balls into the water. After about 2-3 minutes, they will rise to the surface. Use a spoon to dislodge any that happen to stick to the bottom of the pot. Simmer the gnocchi for one minute longer, then remove them with a slotted spoon, and place them in a 9-inch square or 10-inch round or similar baking dish. Repeat with the remaining balls. Do not overcook the gnocchi or they may fall apart.

When all the gnocchi are ready, drain off any water in the dish. Then add topping of your choice, drizzle melted butter over all the gnocchi, then sprinkle with grated cheeses.

Just before serving, heat the gnocchi in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese topping is melted and lightly browned.

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