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Spinach and ricotta gnudi with fava beans and cherry tomatoes

Serves 4 as a first course

The night before you make this, wrap the ricotta in cheesecloth and set it in a colander over a bowl; let it drain in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Pecorino Sardo, which Maris Iocco uses, comes from Sardinia. Or use any firm, aged Italian sheep's milk cheese; shave it with a vegetable peeler.

Olive oil (for sprinkling)
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed with stems removed
8 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano
8 ounces semolina flour
2 egg yolks
16 ounces fresh whole milk ricotta
1 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces shelled fresh fava beans
4 ounce piece firm sheep's milk cheese, shaved into thin strips
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Rub a rimmed baking sheet with oil.

2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until it wilts and turns bright green. Let the spinach cool. Squeeze it in your hands to remove excess moisture. Chop the spinach coarsely, then drain it on a paper towels; set aside.

3. Sift together the Parmigiano Reggiano and semolina flour. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks and fresh ricotta. Add three-quarters of the semolina mixture until you can form a dough. When the dough is mixed, break off golf-ball sized pieces and flatten them into the shape of small hockey pucks. Roll the gnudi in the remaining semolina mixture.

4. Clean the skillet. Fill it with water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a slow simmer -- the surface of the water should be just shimmering. With a slotted spoon, ease the gnudi into the water. Poach them for 2 minutes, then transfer to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with more oil.

5. Bake the gnudi for 10 minutes or until the dumplings begin to brown.

6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of water and a generous pinch of salt. Add the tomatoes and fava beans. Cook for 3 minutes or until the fava beans are bright green and the tomatoes are just bursting their skins.

4. Pile the gnudi into shallow bowls. Add the fava beans mixture, salt, pepper, and shavings of cheese.

Adapted from Bricco

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