Meatless Monday: Creamy lemon-ricotta gnocchi with spinach

Apr 6, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET

Gnocchi have a special place in my heart. Mostly because one of my most vivid memories of them has to do with a small Italian restaurant in Murano, Italy, and a waiter who placed exactly one gnocchi on my plate after telling him I wanted just "a little" more and then proceeded to take my arm and kiss it from my fingertips to my shoulder in a way only an Italian waiter could while getting away with it.

Since that experience, I can't look at gnocchi the same way, but I also can't pass up the opportunity to make them every now and then at home. They're really pretty simple even though buying them premade is even easier (which you can definitely do in this recipe), and they're a great alternative to pasta when you're craving quick comfort food.

Tossed with spinach and lemon, this creamy version is light, bright, fresh and perfect for spring.

Creamy lemon-ricotta gnocchi and spinach recipe

Gnocchi is a great alternative to pasta for that comfort food feel. Feel free to use prepared gnocchi instead of making your own for this recipe to make it a quick weeknight meal.

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 16 ounces whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch spinach, ends trimmed, washed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 ounces goat cheese


  1. Strain the ricotta over a bowl with either a towel, cheesecloth or coffee filters for an hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the strained ricotta, flour, egg and salt, and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.
  3. The dough should be sticky but not so much that it sticks to your fingers. If it does, add some more flour until it's the right consistency.
  4. On a floured surface, divide the dough in 2. Roll each piece into a log about 1 inch thick. Cut the log into pieces about 3/4 inch large, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a bit of flour so the gnocchi don't stick. You can also roll each piece against the back of a fork for the typical gnocchi appearance, if desired.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  6. While the water boils, to a large skillet over medium heat, add the milk, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  7. Once the milk starts to simmer, add the spinach, lemon zest, lemon juice and goat cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the spinach starts to wilt.
  8. Once the water is boiling, add the gnocchi to the pot, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until they start to float.
  9. Remove the gnocchi from the pot as they rise to the surface, and add them to the skillet.
  10. Toss everything together in the skillet until coated.
  11. Serve with Parmesan cheese, and garnish with more lemon zest.

meatless monday

More gnocchi recipes

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Sweet jam-filled gnocchi
Homemade gnocchi with buttered sage and poppy seeds