Lillian Gish's Gnocchi Verdi with Pesto Sauce
1 cup finely minced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly grated Sardo (or Parmesan) cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pound basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese in a mortar (or mix at high speed in electric blender). Whisk in olive oil adding a few drops at a time. Beat until sauce is the consistency of creamed butter.
For the gnocchi:
1 pound fresh spinach
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup softened butter
8 ounces ricotta cheese or 4 ounces each demi-carre and Primula cheese)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons flour
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Wash spinach leaves thoroughly, discard any bruised or yellowed leaves. Dry thoroughly. Place spinach with a little salt, but no water in saucepan; cover, cook spinach until barely tender; watch closely. Drain until absolutely dry; chop finely. Add nutmeg to spinach in saucepan, season with salt and pepper to taste, add 1/4 cup butter, and sieved mashed ricotta.
Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring. Cool, stir in beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese and flour. Let stand several hours.
Turn out on lightly floured board. Roll into long sausage rolls one-half inch in diameter. Pinch off half-inch pieces, forming gnocchi. When all the dumplings are ready, fill several pots with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.
Cook gnocchi over low heat until they rise to the surface (about 5 minutes); remove at once with a slotted spoon. Drain well in a colander.
Put first batch in shallow buttered fireproof baking dish; top with melted butter and a layer of grated Parmesan cheese. Put dish in preheated 275 degree F. oven to keep hot while completing the rest.
When all the gnocchi are done, top with two more tablespoons melted butter and a generous amount of grated Parmesan. Leave in oven about 5 more minutes. Serve with dollops of pesto sauce. Serves 4.
Thoughts: Foreign cheeses are available in gourmet or cheese specialty shops. Otherwise, substitute top-grade Parmesan and ricotta cheese, available in most supermarkets, as indicated. It fresh basil is not obtainable, use fresh minced parsley with 1 tablespoon dry basil.