Best way to eat healthfully is prepare in advance |

Best way to eat healthfully is prepare in advance

Linda Marrone
Special to the Appeal
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter, as prepared by Linda Marrone.

Gosh, it seems like it went from winter to spring to almost summer in one week. It’s that time of year when we start to spend a lot more of our time outside.

We have so much to do in the yard that I’m not sure where to begin. My husband, Ralph, actually does all of the yard and gardening work. I mostly just offer advice, purchase, plant, and pick when ready. We always do some container gardening, and this year we are going to try a lot more of it.

It’s time to dust off your barbecue and start cooking some lighter meals. May and the first part of June are always such busy months with so much going on, with outdoor activities for which you need to plan ahead just a little so you can eat a healthier meal at home instead of stopping at the fast-food drive-through.

If you are going to buy an already-cooked chicken for convenience or cook one yourself, pick up an extra one and have it on hand. Once you have it in your refrigerator, it’s much easier to figure out what to do with it – whether you shred it for tacos, dice it for salads, slice it for sandwiches, or cut it up for stir-fry.

Steam some asparagus and have some extra on hand to put in a frittata or in your salad. Hard boil some eggs and keep them peeled for some instant protein. Strawberries are only going to get better; just make sure you wash them really good because they contain more pesticides than almost any other fruit. Buy a fresh pineapple and slice it yourself into wedges for an easy snack or addition to your dinner.

Buy a salad from your favorite restaurant and bring it home. I get a salad from Adele’s, and Ralph and I can easily share one. If I’m in Reno, I make my last stop Wild Oats and get one from their salad bar. This time of year, it’s always a good idea to keep a cooler in your car. I have one of those soft-sided coolers, and it just stays in my car for summer.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I’m going to share a couple of recipes. One would make a nice side dish or an entrée. The other is a recipe for silky hands.

This first recipe came from a cooking demonstration that Ralph and I went to at Macy’s on our trip to San Francisco last month. The chef is Ruggero Gadaldi, and one of his restaurants is Antica Trattoria.

It’s on our list of “places to try” on our next trip to The City. It was a great class, and the best thing is, he brought his 7-year-old son, who helped him prepare and cook this dish.

They made it look easy, and it really is. You can make these in advance, and leave them covered in the refrigerator. Ralph and I made them for Easter, and I froze the rest and used them later. They were fine.

Most traditional Italian gnocchi are made with potato and are usually a little heavy. This version is light and delicious.

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

For the gnocchi:

• 21Ú2 pounds spinach

• 11Ú2 cup ricotta cheese

• 1Ú2 cup flour

• 1 cup panko bread crumbs

• 2 egg yolks

• 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

• Kosher salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg to taste

• For the sauce:

• 1 stick of butter

• 1 bunch of fresh sage leaves

• 4 T. grated parmesan cheese

For the gnocchi:

Rinse the spinach thoroughly, but do not dry. Steam over medium-high heat for five minutes with just a little water in the bottom of the pan (Note, this will look like too much spinach, but it isn’t). Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop spinach finely and place in medium-size bowl.

Add ricotta, flour, bread crumbs, cheese and egg yolks, season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Shape mixture into 1-inch round balls and dust with flour as you roll them to keep from sticking to your hands.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil, and add the gnocchi a few at a time. As they rise to the surface, let boil gently for an additional two minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a warmed pasta bowl.

For the sauce:

In a saucepan over low-medium heat, melt butter and add sage leaves. When butter gets to a light brown color, remove from stove and pour on top of gnocchi. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

This next recipe comes from the April issue of “Health” magazine. It’s an overnight skin softener and would make an easy treat for Mom on Mother’s Day. Assemble the ingredients and have them ready for her.

You will need: 1Ú2 cup coconut oil, found at health-food stores. (I substituted olive oil.)

1Ú2 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon (careful if you have cuts)

Cotton gloves

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Rub the mixture over your hands for a least one minute, scrubbing like you would while washing up. Use a paper towel to brush off any excess sugar from your skin.

Slide your hands into the gloves and leave them on overnight. By morning, the oil should be absorbed.

This should soften and brighten your skin.

• Linda Marrone has been a Carson City resident since 1973 and together with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin’s Cookin’ Catering.