San Bernardino Sun, 19 October 1978
Lillian Gish’s recipe for gnocchi Verdi
By JOHN A. BLINN – Gannett News Service
BEVERLY HILLS – “I’ve always worked at good ‘health, says veteran actress Lillian Gish. “I recommend that people take an interest In theirs!” At 82, Miss Gish is indeed a remarkable example of health and longevity, to say nothing of her enduring talent. In town to promote her new film, “A Wedding,” she talked casually while she elevated her feet on the bed. “It’s wonderful for your circulation. It isn’t Just time that’s dragging us all into the grave, you know,” she added brightly. “It’s gravity, too!” She regards her health crusade as a prudent habit which developed out of her strenuous silent movie days.
In her many films with D.W. Griffith, she was often exposed to extremes of temperatures while doing her stunt work and working long hours. “It wasn’t only the running, horseback riding and cliff hanging. Just to convey a few seconds’ worth of emotion in pantomime called for the use of the whole body. So, the body had to be under perfect control and it couldn’t stand the gaff unless you kept it healthy.”
Gish admitted she is not a performing artist in the kitchen. However, she is an avid collector of recipes “that strike her fancy. “I have a favorite recipe for gnocchi verdi,” she said, producing a handwritten recipe on Italian hotel stationery. “This takes my housekeeper a day to prepare.” She feels excellent food requires quality ingredients. “We have the potential for being the best cooks in the world right here In our own country. Where else can you find the best milk, cream, eggs and meat?” Unfortunately it’s the cook that produces bad meals and poor eating habits.”
The recipe for Lillian Gish’s gnocchi Verdi (spinach dumplings) with pesto sauce follows:
FOR THE PESTO SAUCE
- 1 cup minced fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- One third cup freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Pound basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and salt and pepper in a mortar or use electric blender or food processor. Whisk in olive oil, adding a few drops at a time. Beat until sauce is the consistency of creamed butter.
FOR THE GNOCCHI
- 1 pound fresh spinach
- One-sixteenth teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup melted butter
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese or 4 ounces each demi carre and primula cheese
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Wash spinach leaves thoroughly, discard any bruised or yellowed leaves. Dry thoroughly. Place spinach with little salt, but no water in saucepan. Cover, cook spinach until barely tender. Watch close-by. Drain until absolutely dry. Chop finely. Add nutmeg to spinach in saucepan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add ½ cup butter and sieved mashed ricotta. Cook over low heat 5 minutes stirring. Cool, stir in beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese and flour. Let stand several hours. Turn out on lightly floured board. Roll into long sausage rolls one-half inch in diameter. Pinch off half inch pieces, forming gnocchi. When all the dumplings are ready, fill several pots with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Cook gnocchi over low heat until they rise to the surface about five minutes, remove at once with a slotted spoon. Drain well in a colander. Put first batch in shallow buttered fire-proof baking dish, top with two more tablespoons melted butter and a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Leave in oven 5 more minutes. Serve with dollops of pesto sauce. Terrific with crisp green salad and your favorite libation.
AFTERTHOUGHT Foreign cheeses are available in gourmet or cheese specialty shops. Otherwise, substitute top grade Parmesan and ricotta cheese available in most supermarkets as indicated. If fresh basil cannot be obtained, use fresh minced parsley with 1 to 2 tablespoons dried basil.
Celebrity cookbook – Lillian Gish’s recipe for gnocchi Verdi (1978)