In the Eating by Heart series, chef Colombe Jacobsen will be your guide to making healthy food choices. She will demonstrate how to make heart healthy recipes that don't involve extra sodium, sugar and fat.
In episode 7 of Eating by Heart, Colombe Jacobsen shows you how to make spinach ricotta gnudi. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy-sounding word, as gnudi is simply a fun term for an Italian dumpling. This recipe not only tastes good, but it is also healthy since it is loaded with spinach. Spinach is great for your hair, bones, and skin as well as high in iron and protein.
Rinse the spinach, and then transfer the spinach to a pot on the stove to wilt it. For the base of the gnudi, separate two egg yolks and whisk them. The yolks will bind the gnudi mixture together. Add the ricotta cheese to the whisked egg yolks. Ricotta cheese is is high in calcium, but use it sparingly as it is also high in fat. Next add Parmesan cheese for flavor, as well as whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is a great alternative to all purpose flour because of its higher fiber content. Freshly grated nutmeg gives the gnudi a more complex flavor. Colombe suggests using freshly grated spices because they are more flavorful than spices that have been sitting on the shelf for a while.
Remove the wilted spinach and let it cool while you work on the sauce. The sauce is simply olive oil, butter and sage. Olive oil is a heart healthy oil with monounsaturated fats. You can use butter sparingly when following a heart healthy diet, since a little goes a long way for flavor. Melt the butter then add olive and sage leaves to infuse the sauce with the flavor of sage. Adding sea salt will enhance flavor, and it provides a dose of healthy, naturally occurring minerals. Iodized salt does not have the nutritional benefits of sea salt. Remove the sage and turn down the heat on your sauce.
Gently squeeze the spinach to remove moisture, and rough chop it. Combine the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture. Shape the gnudi by taking scoops of the mixture and rolling in your hands and on parchment paper coated with whole wheat flour. Set the gnudi in the refrigerator to chill. After they are chilled, cook the gnudi in a pot. You can tell the gnudi are ready when they float to the top. You can now coat the gnudi with sauce, then finish with crumbled sage.