Gnudi, typical Tuscan ricotta and spinach gnocchi

Gnudi, typical Tuscan ricotta and spinach gnocchi

Gnudi is a typical Tuscan dish, simple and tasty, where the filling is served in the form of gnocchi but without the pasta wrap. The name comes from ‘gnudo’ meaning naked one, in the Tuscan vernacular. The dish comes from the southern Tuscan region of Maremma, one of Italy’s areas for sheep.

 

In Italy in Spring we have the best ricotta, it is the time of new-borns and fresh milk. Try this recipe, you won’t regret it.

  • 20 oz. (700 gr.) raw spinach or 10 oz. block (350 gr.) frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 cup (250gr.) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 6,5 tbsp (50 gr.) 00 flour (plus more for dusting a sheet of kitchen paper and your hands while rolling)
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • sea salt and black pepper, to season
  • 1/3 cup (50 gr.) butter
  • 5-6 sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp (30 gr.) grated Parmesan
  1. In advance: Using a strainer over a bowl, strain the ricotta overnight in the fridge to remove all the liquid.

    TIP: Cover the strainer with plastic wrap to protect the cheese from absorbing scents in the fridge as it drains.

  2. When you are ready to start making the gnudi, cook the raw spinach in a large pot of boiling salted water until just cooked through, about 1 minute. If using frozen spinach, let defrost, or microwave.

    Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked spinach in small batches to a sieve. Use the sieve to squeeze ALL the water out of the spinach by pushing the spinach against the sieve. Cut the spinach.

  3. In a frying pan, fry the garlic clove in the oil, discard the garlic and sauté the spinach in the flavored oil.

  4. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse. You want to make sure the spinach is in tiny pieces and the mixture is thoroughly combined.

    Dust your hands with a little flour so the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.

    Take 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball.

  5. Place on a plate lined with waxed paper or parchment and sprinkled with flour, so the balls don’t stick.

  6. In a small pot, melt the butter and carefully add the sage leaves.

    TIP: It is important that the sage leaves do not fry.

  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for cooking the gnudi.

    Add the gnudi to the water one at a time and cook for 3 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Using a wooden spoon, carefully make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot as they are cooking.

    When they all float to the top, use a slotted spoon to remove the gnudi and place in your plate or bowl.

  8. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, pour the melted butter with sage over the top and serve.

You can replace a part of cow milk ricotta with a bit of sheep milk one, the taste will be really intriguing. In this case, be careful when seasoning with salt.

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About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.