I love spinach nearly as much as I do dark chocolate. Seriously, when there was the E. Coli outbreak back in 2006 linked to bagged spinach I felt like I went through leafy green withdrawl (so sad to see it stripped from all the grocery store shelves—if only I were a decent gardener!). Romaine lettuce, iceberg, butter lettuce, they’re okay, but the thick heft and chewiness of leaf of spinach, simply tasty.

Not so for my kids. “This tastes like you’re eating leaves,” my oldest said once. “Well… you are,” I explained. Of course, that didn’t make her any more eager to eat it. So I add spinach into my foods, but I don’t push it with my girls.

Sometimes, it’s all about the recipe. The other day I had a duel challenge—my kids aren’t huge gnocchi fans and well, you already know their thoughts on my favorite veggie. But I wanted a meal with both. I made them plain pasta and for my husband and me I tried something new. For each of my girls I put a little of my new creation on their plates and expected to eat their leftovers later. No leftovers. In fact, my two oldest girls went back for seconds—we’re talking sautéed spinach here. And it wasn’t a fluke. I made the recipe again this week and sure enough they ate it. I wish I could say the recipe was something terribly creative and unique, but taking a few extra steps was what made the dish yummy. That and I didn’t try to tweak it for my girls, I just made something I wanted to eat.

My daughter with a second helping

*Note—for this recipe I tried a stir-fry technique with Italian food. I sauteed the veggies first (the spinach) and moved it to the sides of the pan as you would in a wok. Then I add the main ingredient (the gnocchi) to the center of the pan and then tossed in my sauce ingredients. Couldn’t have been simpler and less mess to clean up too.

Fast & Easy Creamy Sauteed Spinach with Ricotta and Fontina Gnocchi

Ingredients

1 17.6 ounce package gnocchi

4 cups spinach

1 cup ricotta

¾ cup fontina

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, separated

ground pepper and salt to taste

2 Tablespoons either half and half or cream (optional)

Fresh, chopped basil (optional)

Directions

Cook the gnocchi according the package directions.

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and bring to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the spinach (I don’t even bother pulling them into smaller pieces I just throw them whole into the pan). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until the spinach leaves just barely begin to wilt. Push the spinach to the outer sides of the pan and add another ½ tablespoon of oil. Add the cooked gnocchi to the middle of the pan. Let the gnocchi cook for about 4 minutes before moving them around.

Now that the gnocchi have had time to sauté, turn the heat down to medium. Add the ricotta cheese in dollops on top of the gnocchi and sprinkle with the cheese.  Don’t mix the ingredients until you see cheese just beginning to melt. Sprinkle with pepper and salt, stir briefly until the cheeses mix with the rest of the ingredients. For a creamier sauce you can add a few tablespoons half and half or heavy cream at this point. You can also toss in fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and/or a few red pepper flakes. Serve.

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