Riccardo Bosio knows that great food – and great eating habits – start with fresh, whole ingredients.
Bosio, the owner of the upscale Italian restaurant Sotto Sopra in Mount Vernon, can often be found in his home kitchen with his wife, Monika, and their daughters Amelia, 3, and Victoria, who will be 2 months old in June.
"We cook at home and at the restaurant," says Bosio. "Amelia is always with us cooking. We try to teach her how things are made by hand."
Young Amelia loves healthy ingredients, like fresh pasta, Parmesan cheese and even spinach. "We gave these things to her from the beginning," explains Bosio. "So it's natural now."
One of the Bosios' favorite recipes to make at home is this simple, light-as-a-feather gnocchi made with fresh spinach and a large helping of salty Parmesan. As Riccardo and Monika chop and boil water, Amelia helps roll out the dough – and eats the final product!
Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi
Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer
8 ounces ricotta cheese, drained
2 cups spinach, washed
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 large egg, beaten
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided (1/4 cup in dough, ¾ cup for rolling out)
- Put ricotta cheese in a fine sieve over a bowl in the refrigerator and let it drain.
- Fill a medium pot with water. Bring it to a boil. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the washed spinach and once it has wilted, approximately a minute or two, remove and drain the spinach. Lay the spinach out on a sheet pan and let it cool.
- Fill a large, wide-brimmed pot with salted water and bring to a boil while you prepare the gnocchi for cooking.
- Once the spinach has cooled, drain its excess moisture. A good method is putting it in a hand towel or cheesecloth and twisting the towel at the top to apply pressure - excess liquid will drain out of the bottom of the towel/cheesecloth. Or if you have a potato ricer, you can use that.
- Add the spinach and garlic clove to a blender or food processor and process until the spinach is finely chopped.
- In a large bowl, add the drained and processed spinach/garlic mixture, 1 beaten egg, drained ricotta, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Mix well.
- Fold ¼ cup of flour into the mixture and mix well.
- Dust a clean surface with some of the remaining ¾ cup of flour. Take a small amount of the dough and turn out the mixture onto the surface. Roll the dough, adding flour to the surface and dough as necessary, until it holds a ¾-inch wide rope- or snake-like shape (be careful not to overwork the dough). Cut the dough into one-inch pieces.
- At this point, you should cook the gnocchi immediately so the glutens don’t stiffen. If you can't cook them immediately, freeze them. Start the freezing process by laying them out on a lightly floured sheet pan to allow the glutens to stiffen. Once firm, transfer to a container that is well-sealed and air-tight and place in the freezer.
- By now, the water in the large pot should be boiling. Reduce to a gentle rolling boil.
- Place one gnocchi in the pot to test – it should rise to the top. Once at the top, let it cook for about one minute. Taste and adjust timing (you may also need to add more flour to your main mixture).
- If using frozen gnocchi, use the same instructions – test one and adjust timing. Frozen gnocchi will likely take a little longer to cook.
- Dress with a simple marinara or brown butter and sage sauce and enjoy!
About the Club
To join the Maryland Family Kids' Cooking Club, follow a few simple steps:
1. Make the recipe above with your kids.
As you make the recipe, ask your kids to write about the experience. In a journal or notebook, answer the following questions:
What did you enjoy most about making the recipe?
What did you think of the taste?
What surprised you most while cooking?
What did you learn about cooking while making this recipe?
2. Take a photo of your kids with the finished product, if you like.
3. Visit this website each week during June to find a new recipe by a different local chef. Recipes 3 and 4 will be posted by June 17 and 24.
4. Let us know when you've completed all four recipes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Kids Cooking Club certificate” in the subject line. Once you've completed all four, we'll mail your child a congratulatory certificate.
About this week’s chef
Riccardo Bosio is the owner of Sotto Sopra Restaurant in Mount Vernon (405 North Charles Street, Baltimore, 410-625-0534). At the restaurant, Chef Bosio creates Italian food that is both correct and elegant. At home, he and his wife Monika cook simple and delicious food with their three year old daughter, Amelia, and new baby Victoria.
For more information about Sotto Sopra, visit www.sottosoprainc.com.