It was an all-out Paul Gayler inspired dinner the other night, sticking with the Mediterranean theme, with penne, heirloom tomatoes, olives and spinach. I made two versions of the gnudi (basically ravioli filling, without the pasta around it), one with parmesan, and one with tofu for the vegans and the lactose intolerant.  The tofu ones actually turned out to be more popular!

Vegan Spinach Gnudi

10 oz. frozen. chopped spinach
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
4 tblsp. chickpea flour
4 tblsp. chickpea flour, mixed with 4 tblsp. water
salt and pepper to tast
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 tblsp. chopped parsley

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just combined. With more chickpea flour on your hands, roll the mixture into small-ish balls. At this point they can be refrigerated if you don’t want to use them till later.
Bring a pot of salt water to boil. Cook the gnudi for 5 minutes. Do not cook too many at a time or they will fall apart or stick to each other. Use a slotted spoon to remove from water. Serve on top of the penne below.

Alternative Non-Vegan Spinach Gnudi

1/2 lb fresh spinach
3/4 cup ricotta, drained
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tblsp. parmesan, grated
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a pan, wilt the spinach with a little water. Transfer to a colander and drain out excess water. In a food processor, blend to a puree. Transfer to a bowl.
Add ricotta, egg, flour, parmesan and seasoning and stir. If it seems too dry, add a little cold water.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
Form small balls. Bring a pot of salt water to a boil. Cook gnudi until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Vegetable Arrabiata Dressing for Pasta

1/2 cup olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 small dried red chilies, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, finely diced
6 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, deseeded and chopped
2 tblsp. pitted chopped black olives
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tblsp. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add shallots, chilies and garlic and cook for a minute or so. Add the zucchini and cook another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add lemon juice, cilantro and salt and pepper. Add to cooked pasta.