Simple Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi w Quick Arrabbiata Sauce

PREP TIME: 60mins


We celebrated a very special birthday this week. It reminded me of a similar dish I always ordered at Villa Paolo in Milner Street, Pretoria, who can remember that little Italian gem? I know gnocchi can sound intimidating but this is super easy and quick and the arrabbiata sauce (spicy tomato sauce) is also finished in a flash.

Your dish is only as good as the quality of the ingredients but quality does not mean expensive. Buying ingredients from artisan producers makes such a difference in the overall flavour of your dish. Sourcing local handmade products and produce makes so much sense, by buying from local producers you are supporting the local economy and trade.

Try local parmesan alternatives and locally made soft Italian cheeses like mascarpone and ricotta.

Serving Suggestion:

Serving Suggestions

  • rocket leaves
  • parmesan
  • lemon zest


  • 1 1/2 tubs fresh ricotta (about 350g)
  • 1 cup finely grated hard cheese
  • 1 cup plain or ‘OO’ pasta flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g spinach or chard, washed and stalks removed
  • 1 1/2 tspn good salt
  • black pepper
    (extra flour to dust)


  • 2 x 400g plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves bashed
  • 2 tspn dried chilli flakes (opt)
  • 3 tbspn fresh chopped basil leaves
  • olive oil


  1. Place the washed (not dried) spinach/chard in a large saucepan on a med/high heat w lid on, steam for a few minutes until completely soft and remove. Drain and squeeze (hard) to remove all the excess liquid (really important step) and finely chop.
  2. Gnocchi/Add all the gnocchi ingredients and the spinach together and mix until a sticky dough forms. Season really well.
  3. Lightly dust the surface with flour, divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a long thin log/sausage shape, about 3cm wide. Slice into little thick pieces and set aside on a floured tray (I used semolina).
  4. Arrabbiatta Sauce: Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and chilli flakes. When the garlic is light brown, remove the chilli and the garlic with a spoon. Add the tomatoes to the oil, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, add 1/4 cup of hot water if the mixture seems too thick, season. Gently cook for 10minutes. Taste and season, you can add the chilli back into the sauce. Add the basil leaves.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. In batches, pop the gnocchi into the boiling water, for about 3min, the gnocchi will float once cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon (a spoon with holes in it) and drain well. Repeat w the other gnocchi.
  6. To serve: place the hot pasta sauce in a pretty platter, scatter with the gnocchi, add a few dollops of olive oil, some lemon zest, rocket and parmesan. Enjoy!
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