Valentine’s Dinner Trio – Spinach Gnocchi, Easy Marinara Sauce and Miles Davis


Fight the restaurant crowds this Valentine’s weekend if you choose, or have a cozy dinner for two at home that takes no time to prepare and is stunningly delicious and fresh.  A bowl of spinach gnocchi, a glass of wine and thou……while listening to Miles Davis’s album & title song “My Funny Valentine”.images-1

 Gnocchi are usually small dumplings but my gnocchi are made with fresh spinach leaves and ricotta and are a little bit larger. Served in a pool of fresh marinara will no doubt pave the way for another year of love and romance. A good full-bodied red wine  and freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano will seal the deal.


Fresh spinach leaves steamed, chopped and mixed with….


ricotta cheese, eggs, nutmeg…..


…parmesan, flour, salt & pepper….


…formed into gnocchi ready to be sauted…


….until lightly browned.


Treat yourself to the really good Parm for this dinner.


The simplest of red sauces using skillet roasted cherry tomatoes and herbs.


A good meal, Miles Davis and a glass or two of well-chosen wine…a deliciously romantic trio.

Peace and Love.

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi and Roasted Tomato Marinara

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 2 cartons of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • olive oil for skillet
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Spinach Gnocchi:

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs fresh spinach leaves, steamed, well-drained
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese + extra for serving
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for cooking

Directions for the Sauce:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add cherry tomatoes to the pan along with the garlic and shallots. Stir to coat with oil and turn heat to medium.
  2. Cook mixture until tomatoes collapse and juices are released which takes about 10-15 minutes. Stir every now and then.
  3. Add chicken broth, herbs, salt & pepper to skillet tossing well. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Process mixture in a food processor or blend in a blender just until smooth.  Return sauce to pan over low heat, keeping warm while making gnocchi.

Directions for Gnocchi:

  1. Blend steamed, well-drained spinach and ricotta together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add shredded Parmesan, eggs and nutmeg and blend well.
  3. Sprinkle flour and dry bread crumbs, salt and pepper over mixture. Blend well. Mixture will be somewhat wet.
  4. Form gnocchi into 1.5 inch balls and then roll gently to make them oblong. Dip your fingers into water as you work so it will be easy to form shapes. As you work place finished gnocchi on a sheet pan covered with parchment. You should have about 15 to 20 gnocchi.
  5. Brown gnocchi in batches in a non stick skillet over medium high heat that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Turn to lightly brown on all sides and cook inside. Place cooked gnocchi loosely covered in a warm oven to keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. To Serve: Portion hot tomato sauce into bowls and top with gnocchi and a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan. Pour a glass or two of vino, light a few candles, turn on some Miles and enjoy!

Teresa Blackburn


Fusilli Al Ferretto with Turkey, Spinach & Feta Meatballs to get you into an Italian State of Mind


This will be short and savory as I am soon to embark on a trip…to various European countries…Italy among them. Which led to thoughts of food and pasta and sauces and the wonders that await my palate.I will leave you with a very good recipe that is easy to make, not much cooking time needed and if you close your eyes while eating you might get into an Italian state of mind right along with me.

 I have often mentioned the little Italian grocery store and pasta shop on my street, Lazzaroli’s, right here in Nashville on 5th Avenue North.  It will get anyone in an Italian food state of mind for sure. I picked up this bag of Fusilli Al Ferretto, translated to mean “wrapped on a needle”, for my recipe.  Fresh pasta is made everyday by Tom Lazzaro who is a master of all he touches. Cheeses, dried and fresh pastas, homemade ricotta, sauces, balsamic vinegars to die for, breads, homemade sauces abound. It is a little shop with all things edible and Italian.


So beautiful. Wonderfully twisted and hollow to hold the sauce.


Simple to make turkey meatballs with feta and fresh spinach.


A carton of homemade tomato sauce from Lazzaroli’s added to the pan.


Pasta added and tossed. A grating of Parmesan Reggiano and crusty bread.

Close your eyes…take a bite….you are in your own little Italy…right?

Buon Appetito!


Fusilli al Ferretto with Turkey, Feta and Fresh Spinach Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian Herbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. Fusilli al Ferretto pasta or other tube pasta
  • 2 cups Marinara sauce – homemade preferred
  • Parmesan Reggiano grated
  • a bottle of your favorite Italian Red Wine to drink along with your meal


  1. Mix together the ground turkey, chopped spinach, feta cheese crumbles, Italian Herb mixture and freshly ground black pepper. Blend well. Form the mixture into meatballs. Chill for 20 minutes on a baking sheet before cooking.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile saute meatballs in olive oil over medium high heat until lightly browned and cooked inside.
  4. Add marinara sauce to the pan and turn heat to simmer.
  5. When water comes to a boil add the pasta and cook according to the package directions or until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and drain pasta.
  6. Add pasta to the pan with the meatballs and sauce and toss. If you like a more wet sauce add a bit of the pasta water.
  7. Serve pasta with a dusting of grated Parmesan, some warm crusty bread and a bottle of Italian red.

Teresa Blackburn