Thursday, May 29, 2014

Strangolapreti alla Trentina

This post is the second installment in a short series on comfort food recipes. In my first post, I shared a recipe for Vermouth-braised Chicken (here) from my wife's maternal grandmother who lived in Nashota, Wisconsin. Now we travel to Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region to cook Strangolapreti alla Trentina. The recipe for this delicious spinach and ricotta gnocchi comes from the Satori family, who live in the village of Levico Terme. Michele Satori, the newly elected mayor of Levico, graciously agreed to transcribe and translate his mother’s dumpling recipe into English. I want to extend a heartfelt grazie mille to Michele and his mother, Michelina, for sharing their wonderful family recipe and showing us how to make Strangolapreti alla Trentina.

Ingredients yield 4 to 5 servings

For the gnocchi:

1 kilogram of spinach
3 eggs
150 grams of ricotta cheese
approximately 100 to 150 grams of tipo 00 flour
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
nutmeg, salt and pepper

For the sauce:


Boil the spinach in a large pot filled with lightly salted water, then strain and press the spinach to eliminate any water. Finely mince the spinach and place in a large bowl.

Now add the eggs, some nutmeg powder, the ricotta cheese, 100 grams of flour, some spoons of grated Parmesan, salt and pepper into the spinach. Mix it all well.

Now, with a spoon, build a gnocco about the size of a nut, and put it in the boiling water in which you cooked the spinach. See if the gnocco holds together or if it melts in the water. If the dumpling dissolves, add some more flour to the green mixture.

When the spinach mixture is at the correct consistency, start to make the gnocchi one at a time and put them into the boiling water. When they come to surface—it should take about 4 to 5 minutes—they are ready. Now strain them and lay them in a casserole dish.

Meanwhile you have prepared the brown butter with sage (that is, a good piece of butter, melted and cooked to become a little brown with some sage leaves). Pour the melted butter over the gnocchi, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over them and BUON APPETITO !!!

These photographs show Nonna Michelina making Strangolapreti alla Trentina.

A few notes. The recipe calls for 1 kilogram of spinach, which is an untrimmed weight (i.e., the spinach’s weight with stems). Stem and clean the spinach before adding it to the boiling water. Nonna Michelina minces the cooked spinach by hand. I tried this method, but I couldn’t duplicate her fine knife skills. I default to using a food processor to purée the spinach.

If you live in the US, use large eggs; you want to find eggs that weigh about 60 grams each in shell.

The amount of flour that you need to add to the spinach mixture depends upon a number of factors (e.g., the amount of / moisture in the spinach, the size of the eggs, and moisture of the ricotta). Start with 100 grams of flour and adjust as necessary.

And speaking of ricotta, you will note from Michele’s photographs that the Italian ricotta that Nonna Michelina uses looks drier than most of the ricotta available here in the US. To address this difference, I use a fine sieve to drain the 150 grams of ricotta in the refrigerator overnight.