Tomatoes are actually berries, and thus belong to the category of fruit. In tomatoes, the size is as important as the color. Small, dark red tomatoes contain the most lycopene and vitamin C and are sweeter and tastier. Tomatoes are best not stored in the refrigerator. When the tomato is colder than 10 °C, the production of flavor stops. The peel and seeds deliver about half of the vitamin C, the lycopene and the other anti-oxidizing effects of the tomato. Like some other fruits cooked tomatoes are more healthier than raw ones. In fact, the longer you heat them, the healthier they become. The heat increases the nutritional value in two ways. In the first place, the cell walls will be broken down so that more nutrients can be released. In the second place the lycopene molecule transform from translycopene into the more easily recordable cislycopene. When cooking with tomatoes, choose steaming or cooking in the oven so the vitamin C content remains as high as possible.
Makes 30 gnocchi’s
For the tomato sauce: 450g San Marzano tomatoes ∞ 1 precooked beetroot (optional) ∞ 1/2 red onion, chopped ∞ 1 large clove garlic, finely crushed ∞ 2 tbsp cold pressed olive oil ∞ 1 tsp cumin ∞ 1 tbsp za’atar ∞ 1/2 tsp chili flakes ∞ pinch of salt ∞ pepper
For the cheese gnocchi with spinach: 150g fresh spinach ∞ 200g ricotta ∞ 1 medium egg, beaten ∞ 20g grated Parmesan cheese ∞ salt and pepper ∞ nutmeg ∞ 4 tbsp bread crumbs ∞ flour
→ Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bring water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes 10 seconds. Keep the water aside! Remove the tomato skin as also the seeds. Transfer the tomatoes to an ovenproof dish. Put the beet, red onion and crushed garlic with it. Drizzle with olive oil and season with cumin, za’atar, chili flakes, salt and peper. Cook them 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 °C. Remove the cooked tomatoes from the oven. Cut the tomatoes coarsely and then add the tomato mass in an iron pan and heat on medium. Simmer for 10 minutes. Mix with a hand blender until you have a smooth tomato sauce. Whilst the tomato sauce is cooking, make the cheese gnocchi. Wash the spinach and remove the hard steals. Put the leaves with the adhering water in a saucepan and let shrink over medium heat. Drain the spinach in a colander, press as much as possible moisture (very important!) and chop the spinach leaves finely. Mash the ricotta with a fork and mix the egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and breadcrumbs through it. Add the spinach and mix well. Dust a worksheet/table generously with flour and roll the cheese-spinach balls through it. At first it may seems a dirty and hopeless task but with some practice it will work. Otherwise, use two spoons with flour in order to make balls. Bring the water from before with some salt in it to a boil and let the gnocchi’s gently glide in it. Wait until they come to the surface and remove them with a slotted spoon from the bowl. Serve the cheese-spinach gnocchi in the spicy tomatosauce and garnish with basil and some Parmesan cheese.