I used to not be a fan of marinara until I came upon Julia Moskin’s simple — and rather genius — recipe in the New York Times. Her marinara, which I follow almost exactly, is rich, full-bodied, and so good that even Jay loves it, and if you have a kid you know that’s not an easy standard to meet.
I have used it in other recipes in the past (it is especially good in these vegan pizza rolls), but I think this sauce is simply bliss paired with my Spinach Cashew Ricotta Dumplings, or gnocchi verde.
I enjoy making gnocchi every once in a while, and it is not as time consuming as you might think. In this recipe, for instance, you need to blend some cashews and cook the spinach until it’s tender– a few minutes’ job, if that — and you are pretty much done. The dumplings are very flavorful, and it’s hard to believe that all you really need to flavor them is a smidgen of nutmeg.
What really endears this dish to the speed-loving cook in me is that I can use frozen spinach, which I nearly always have in my freezer. The rest is pantry ingredients: cashews, flour, and canned San Marzano tomatoes for the marinara. You don’t need a gnocchi board or even a fork to shape the spinach cashew ricotta dumplings, your hands will do just fine, thank you.
Now, let’s make that gnocchi and marinara. I can’t wait to eat!
Spinach Cashew Ricotta Dumplings in a Marinara Sauce
My Spinach Cashew Ricotta Dumplings are a vegan take on gnocchi verde, a delicious pasta made with flour, spinach, and ricotta cheese. Serve these with a vibrant marinara sauce for a healthy, happy meal.
For the spinach cashew ricotta dumplings:
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
- 2 12-oz packages frozen chopped spinach
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3/4 cup unbleached AP flour, plus 1/4 cup more for dusting
- Sea salt or pink salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
For the marinara:
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, placed in a bowl and squeezed with your fingers until they break down. Swirl a cup of water in the tin and reserve.
- 7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp dry thyme (use 1 tbsp fresh, or use 4-5 fresh basil leaves if you have that)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Make the marinara:
Heat the oil in a wide saucepan or wok. Add the garlic and let it cook, stirring, for a few seconds until it just starts to change color.
Add the crushed tomatoes and the reserved water from the tin. Add the thyme and red pepper flakes and mix well. Add some ground black pepper if you want to.
Let the sauce cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or until it has reduced and looks bright orange on top.
Add salt to taste.
Make the spinach cashew ricotta dumplings:
Thaw the spinach on the countertop, or, for a quicker method, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and zap until defrosted, about five minutes. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
Heat the olive oil and add the spinach along with salt and ground black pepper. Saute until the spinach is quite dry and cooked. Transfer to a large bowl.
Drain the cashews and blend them with one cup of water until you have a very smooth paste. Add to the bowl with the spinach.
Add the AP flour, nutritional yeast, and nutmeg to the bowl along with more salt if needed. Mix well.
Place a large pot of water to boil.
Place the flour for dusting on a plate and drop a spoonful of the spinach dumpling mixture on the flour. Turn to coat with the flour then, using your fingers, gently shape into a ball. Place on a floured plate until you shape the rest of the dumplings. I got 24 dumplings, about an inch in diameter.
When the water has boiled, gently drop the dumplings into the water, one at a time. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, but don’t stir them as they cook because you don’t want to break them. As the dumplings cook, they will rise to the surface.
Using a slotted spoon, fish the dumplings out of the water and place them on a plate covered with paper towels.
To serve, place some marinara on a plate, and top with the dumplings.
More Italian Vegan Recipes from the archives: