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Gnudi means, well, “nude” — because these are nude ravioli, the filling without the outer pasta covering. They are delicious served with tomato sauce, as in this recipe, or with melted butter and sage.
- ¾ cup steamed spinach, finely chopped
- ¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 large egg yolks
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 cups tomato sauce
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, pecorino, and egg yolks. Stir to blend. Stir in the nutmeg and salt to taste, then gently stir in the flour, mixing just enough to pull the mixture together.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the tomato sauce and spread a thin layer of it over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Using two tablespoons, shape and compact the ricotta mixture into ovals and drop them directly
into the boiling water in batches, so as not to crowd the pot. They will float to the top when done, after 3-4 minutes. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the gnudi to the casserole dish. Keep warm in a low oven. Repeat to cook all the remaining gnudi. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the gnudi and serve at once.
- 400g/14oz ricotta
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 50g/1¾oz ’00’ flour
- 350g/12oz cooked spinach (equivalent to 1kg/2lb 4oz uncooked spinach), excess water squeezed and finely chopped
- 150g/5½oz fine semolina flour, for dusting
- 75g/2½oz unsalted butter
- 8 sage leaves
- 100g/3½oz burrata, drained and finely chopped
- 50g/1¾oz Parmesan, grated, to serve , to taste
Put the ricotta, beaten eggs and the ‘00’ flour in a large bowl. Add the spinach to the main mixture and mix well until firm. Prepare a baking tray with semolina flour.
Take a tablespoonful of the mixture and place into a wine glass and spin the glass around so that the mixture forms a small ball. Place the ball on the prepared tray and shake the tray so that the semolina flour coats the gnudi. This will give it a sort of shell and prevent it from breaking up. Continue until you have used up all the mixture. Place the balls on the tray uncovered in a fridge for 1 hour.
Put the butter in a large frying pan and cook on a medium heat until the butter starts to foam. Add the sage leaves and fry until the sage goes crisp. Once it does, remove the sage and place on kitchen paper to drain. Keep the butter in the pan until it turns a nutty brown. Pour the butter into a bowl and reserve. Do not wash the frying pan.
Carefully add the gnudi to a saucepan of simmering salted water, and cook until they rise to the top, then wait another 20 seconds, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in the pan that you browned the butter in. Add a tablespoon of the reserved brown butter and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water. Shake the pan.
Serve in hot pasta bowls. Divide the chopped burrata onto the cooked gnudi and finish off with the crispy sage leaves, browned butter, black pepper and grated Parmesan.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, large stems removed, washed well
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), preferably fresh, drained for 30 minutes in a fine sieve
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 1 ounce)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Semolina, for dusting
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage, plus about 8 leaves
Fit a large pot with a steamer insert. Add enough water to come about 3 inches below bottom of insert, and bring to a simmer. Add spinach, cover, and steam until bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Press to remove liquid. Roll spinach in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth, and squeeze to remove any remaining liquid. Transfer to a food processor, and puree until smooth (you should have 1 scant cup).
Stir together spinach puree, egg yolks, cheeses, 2 tablespoons flour, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Mound 1 cup flour on a cutting board. Using floured hands, gently shape 1 tablespoon spinach mixture into a small log. Drop it into the flour, and quickly roll to coat lightly. Transfer to a baking sheet that's lightly dusted with semolina. Repeat. Refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to cook (up to overnight).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half the gnudi, and stir gently to prevent them from sticking together. Cook until gnudi rise to, and remain on, surface, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining gnudi.
Meanwhile, warm 4 plates. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in chopped sage and the sage leaves. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons gnudi cooking water, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Use a slotted spoon to remove gnudi from water shake off excess water, and transfer to plates. Drizzle with sage butter. Serve immediately.
Spinach and Ricotta G’nudi
I know its spring and the need for comfort food is not as pressing, but with all that is going on in the world, we need Gnudi!
This recipe is really a hybrid of Gnocchi and Gnudi. Traditionally, gnudi is nothing more than ricotta and flour, while gnocchi is made from flour and potato. This special gnudi recipe calls for potato – which is a really nice, comforting twist!!
These gnudi are delicious smothered in a tomato-based sauce, pan fried in butter and eaten as is, or boiled and gently soaked in the gravy of the dish you have paired it with. It can also be a fun little project to make with the kids – all hand’s in.
1 large russet potato (about 15 oz)
About 3 cups/3 oz/half a box of baby spinach or about 2-3 ounces frozen spinach/ ¼ cup frozen spinach * see note at the bottom
1 Tbs. butter (only if using fresh spinach)
¼ cup full fat ricotta cheese
Pomodoro or Arrabbiata Sauce, for serving
Place the whole unpeeled potato in a pot and cover with cold water by a couple of inches. Bring to a rolling boil, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook until the potato is easily pierced with a skewer, it will take 40-50 minutes.
For Fresh Spinach: Heat the butter in a small fry pan, add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2-3 minutes, let it cool and transfer the spinach to a bed of paper towels. Roll the paper towel up around the spinach to absorb the excess moisture, chop finely and place in a mixing bowl. If Using Frozen Spinach: Defrost the spinach (in the microwave) and place on a paper towel to squeeze excess water out. Chop finely and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the ricotta, egg, and salt to the mixing bowl with the spinach, mix with a fork until well combined.
When the potato is cool enough to handle, I use gloves because it is better to do this when the potato is still warm, peel it and “rice” the potato or mash it. I do this onto a piece of parchment, so that I can spread the potato out so that it cools.
Add the potato to the spinach mixture, gently mix together, add the flour (no more than ¾ cup), mix gently, try to mix well without over mixing. Use a for to mix and mash.
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into oval shapes place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).
To Cook: Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt (about 1 Tbs.) add g'nudi (about 10 at a time). Stir occasionally. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, they will float to the top, drain using a slotted spoon and transfer to bowls.
Spoon Pomodoro or Arrabbiata Sauce, spooned over the g’nudi and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
Tip: Consider this a project, make all the g’nudi and freeze what you don’t use (freeze on a parchment lined sheet, once frozen, toss into a baggie and cook from frozen). I usually double this recipe and stock my freezer.
If Using Frozen Spinach
Weighed it or measure it once defrosted and excess water squeezed out. * or(measured once defrosted and excess water squeezed out)
Baked Tuscan Gnudi (Malfatti) with tomato sauce.
In this baked Tuscan gnudi (malfatti) recipe, melt-in-your-mouth spinach and ricotta dumplings from Tuscany are cooked in a delicious homemade tomato sauce with mozzarella.
Gnudi al forno.
Tuscan spinach and ricotta gnudi are a type of gnocchi or dumpling from Tuscany. In parts of Tuscany, like Siena, they also call them malfatti, meaning badly made. Malfatti are also eaten in Lombardy. Gnudi or malfatti actually started life as the filling for a type of ravioli or tortelli but became a traditional dish in their own right. Written reference to these delicious dumplings actually dates back to the 16 th century!
Different ways to serve Tuscan Gnudi
These melt-in-your-mouth ricotta based gnocchi are traditionally made with spinach and eaten with a browned butter or a sage butter sauce. However, baked Tuscan gnudi (malfatti) are divinely delicious too, especially with a homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella! I like them served both ways, so I have included the recipe for sage butter gnudi as well! You can choose to serve yours in two different ways.
Tuscan gnudi or malfatti with sage butter
Making baked Tuscan Gnudi (malfatti).
The ingredients for gnudi or malfatti are simply fresh spinach, good sheep or cow ricotta, fresh eggs, plenty of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or aged Pecorino Toscano, flour and salt. Many people also add a pinch of nutmeg. If you are preparing baked Tuscan gnudi (malfatti), you will also need the ingredients to make a tomato sauce and some mozzarella.
Although Tuscan spinach and ricotta gnudi are pretty easy to make it’s important to get the consistency right. If the ingredients are too ‘wet’, you’ll need more flour and the resulting gnudi will be too heavy and floury. So, it’s essential that you drain the spinach and ricotta well. Both can actually be squeezed out in a cotton tea towel if necessary.
Tuscan gnudi al forno takes a little longer to make than if you are serving the dumplings just with browned butter or sage butter. However, you don’t need to bake them for very long and you can make the tomato sauce while the gnudi mixture is resting in the fridge.
Gnudi can be made the day before.
Some people cook gnudi or malfatti immediately after making the mixture. However, many recipes recommend refrigerating it for at least 2 hours. This is what I do, when I make them. Also, some Italians say that gnudi or malfatti need to be used the day they are made. The ones I used in this baked Tuscan gnudi recipe, I had made the day before.
Some I served with sage butter for guests the same day as making them. The others I boiled and baked the following day. Just as yummy! So if you need too, you can prepare the raw gnudi the day before and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
Two recipes in one.
You can use this recipe to cook Tuscan gnudi (malfatti) two ways. First way: Make the gnudi, cook them in boiling water and serve with some sage butter (melted butter with sage leaves cooked in it until crispy). Second way: follow all the recipe instructions and serve your baked Tuscan gnudi al forno in a homemade tomato sauce with melted mozzarella! If you make extra gnudi (malfatti) you can do like I did and eat them both ways! Twice the deliciousness!
If you make this baked Tuscan gnudi (malfatti) recipe or just serve them with sage butter, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Please write a comment here on the blog, email me or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback is really appreciated!
Other Gnudi recipes on The Pasta Project
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Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Ingredients US Metric
- For the gnudi
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
- 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach or spinach leaves (if using mature spinach, remove the stalks, rinse, and pat it dry
- 12 ounces ricotta (sheep or cow), well drained
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 medium egg
- 1 3/4 ounces 00 flour or all-purpose flour* (see NOTE below for gluten-free version), plus more for dusting
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- For the sage butter
- 1 bunch sage, leaves stripped from the stalks except for 2 to 3 sprigs
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or other mild oil, for frying
- 11 tablespoons salted butter (5 1/2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spear 1/2 the garlic clove with the tines of a fork. Place a strainer or colander over a large bowl. When the oil is warm, add half the spinach, cover the skillet with a lid or baking sheet, and cook, stirring every 30 seconds with the forked garlic, until completely wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Tip the cooked spinach into the strainer or colander to drain.
Repeat with the rest of the spinach, using the remaining oil and the other 1/2 garlic clove and then adding it to the already cooked spinach. Let cool. Remove the excess water by either squeezing the spinach in your hands, wringing it in a clean kitchen towel, or pressing down on it with the back of a spatula or a spoon. If you’re not using baby spinach, roughly chop the spinach.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and spinach until well combined. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano, egg, and flour and stir until combined and then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and generously dust with flour. Using 2 large spoons (soup spoons work well), take a heaping spoonful of the mixture (about 1 ounce | 30 g) and shape it into miniature egg-shaped dumplings or quenelles by passing it repeatedly between the spoons, turning and smoothing the sides as you do so. (Alternatively, you can use a spoon to scoop up some of the mixture and use floured fingers to gently form it into an oval.) Carefully place it on the floured parchment. You should end up with 20 to 30 gnudi. Dust the gnudi with a little flour, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a cool place until ready to cook. (You can refrigerate the gnudi for up to 24 hours before cooking.)
When ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the gnudi to the water, reduce the heat, and gently simmer until they rise to the surface, which indicates that they’re cooked through, which should happen after 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift out the gnudi, let them drain for a moment, and then gently place them back on the baking sheet.
In a skillet over medium heat, warm the grapeseed oil and fry the sage leaves in batches (6 to 8 at a time) for about 5 seconds. Use tongs or a fork to transfer the sage leaves to paper towels. Rest assured, the sage will crisp as it cools.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter along with the reserved sage sprigs. As soon as the butter begins to foam and take on a nutty brown color, add some of the gnudi to the skillet, making sure they’re not too crowded. Cook until the gnudi just start to crisp and brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully turn them over and cook on the other side until just browned, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Divide the gnudi among plates. Arrange the fried sage leaves around the gnudi and, if desired, drizzle with some of the sage butter remaining in the skillet. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.
*NOTE How To Make Gluten-Free Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
We made this gnudi using a gluten-free flour blend to magnificent effect, swapping an equal measure of gluten-free for 00 or all-purpose flour.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Quote from my husband: “We have now discovered sage butter and it’s delicious.” He sopped up every last bit with his bread and swiped a bit off of my plate, too. These spinach and ricotta gnudi with sage butter were a date night dinner. We ate the gnudi as an entrée with a salad and crusty bread. They would also make an elegant and impressive appetizer for a multi-course dinner. The spinach was mild and nicely balanced with the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. The sage butter was the perfect note to finish the whole dish.
I was a complete failure at using spoons to make the quenelles. I gave up and gently formed the gnudi into ovals with floured fingers after scooping up the mixture with a spoon.
I had made gnudi one other time and this experience was much better. The gnudi held together nicely during boiling, unlike during my previous attempt. One or two gnudi cracked through the middle as I set them onto the towel to drain.
I made a half recipe, mostly because the headnote stated that they needed to be eaten right away and there were only two of us for dinner. The leftovers were just fine briefly rewarmed in the microwave the next day.
I will say that the recipe is a bit time-consuming and I would recommend making the gnudi ahead of time, especially if you’re attempting to make them on a Friday after work. They would also be a great weekend cooking project.
This recipe is very tasty and we enjoyed it as a main course for dinner.
I had no issues forming the quenelles. I cooked some of the quenelles for 1 minute on each side and cooked others slightly longer until they turned a light brown. We liked the browned ones better. The thin crunch was delightful.
I not only put Parmesan on the gnudi when I put them on each plate, but I passed extra Parmesan so people could put more on if desired. And we did.
If someone were to make this recipe as a main course, note that I ate 6 and my eating partner ate 12.
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This recipe is incredible!! I always let them sit in the fridge for a day to get a little more tough so they don’t fall apart. Can these be frozen??
Kelly, so happy that you enjoyed them! Yes, these gnudi can be frozen. Freeze them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until hard. Then store them in a zip-top bag.
Oh, YES! These are the spinach gnudi I have been looking for. When I was in Italy a few years ago I had them in Sienna with a red sauce and they were OK. They called them Malfetta. But when I had them in Milan with a cheese sauce they were devine. I went back to that restaurant and had them again, just before I left. I’ve been looking for a recipe ever since and I think this is the one! Thanks so much.
Gnudi (Ricotta and Spinach Dumplings)
This delicious recipe for Gnudi (Ricotta and Spinach Dumplings) perfectly with Cookie Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.
- 3/4 Cup(s) Flour
- 4 Tablespoon(s) McCormick Gourmet™ Tuscan Seasoning, divided
- 1/8 Teaspoon(s) McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Ground Nutmeg
- 5 Ounce(s) Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 Cup(s) Whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 Cup(s) Finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 Cup(s) Kitchen Basics® All Natural Original Chicken Stock 1 tablespoon butter
1. Mix flour, 3 1/2 teaspoons of the Seasoning and nutmeg in small bowl. Mix spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. With wet hands, form 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a round dumpling. Lightly coat with additional flour. Place on large baking pan. Repeat with remaining mixture to form about 24 dumplings.
2. Bring stock, butter, 2 tablespoons of the remaining Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Seasoning to simmer in large saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, if desired. Cover. Keep warm on low heat.
3. Bring large saucepot of lightly salted water to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook dumplings in batches about 2 minutes or until they float to the surface. Transfer dumplings with slotted spoon to saucepan with stock. Serve dumplings and stock mixture in shallow soup bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi in Sage-Butter Sauce
It’s hard to believe that the cutely-named primo known as gnudi—gnudi is Tuscan dialect for nudi, or nude/naked—were once the purview of home cooks in a relatively restricted part of the world: the Maremma region of Tuscany, namely. Today, gnudi are a renowned favorite, popular with celebrity chefs, food writers, and bloggers well beyond Italy’s borders. Unlike other types of fresh pasta, though, you won’t easily find these ‘nude’ (i.e. sans pasta) ravioli in the market, as they tend to not keep well. Thankfully, gnudi are easy and inexpensive to make, and you can vary them by using cooked chard or another leafy green in place of spinach. Gnudi also go by the names strangolapreti (‘priest stranglers’) and malvestiti (‘poorly dressed’). Don’t you just love Italians?
This recipe makes 10 large gnudi.
Place the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl for a few hours (or overnight), and keep in the fridge. Boil a large bunch of fresh spinach (leaves only) for a few minutes in salted water, strain very well, and then transfer to a chopping block. Mince with a large knife or a mezzaluna and again press out excess water, this time in a mesh strainer if possible. You could use cheesecloth here if you have it. You want about 1 cup/200 grams of cooked spinach.
Combine all the gnudi ingredients in a bowl. Now test the consistency. You are aiming for a mixture that is firm enough to shape but is not dry. Achieving this will depend on how much liquid was in the ricotta and the cooked spinach. You might have to add more flour to arrive at the right texture. Keep in mind that gnudi made from a too-dry mixture will not do well in the boiling water, while too-moist gnudi will fall apart. Test by rolling a small portion of the mixture in your hand: it should be workable yet sticky.
Set a large pot of water to boil. Lightly dust a plate with flour. Form the gnudi into either round balls or oval shapes (it helps to flour your hands), place them on the plate and gently roll them in the flour. They should be very lightly covered in flour, not caked.
Lower the heat on the water until you have a mild boil, between a simmer and a rolling boil. Cook the gnudi in a few batches for about 4 to 5 minutes. They are done when have popped up to the water’s surface and are firm to the touch. Gently scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Do not dump them in a strainer.
Meanwhile, melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan and swirl in the sage leaves. Transfer the cooked gnudi to this pan as they finish cooking, coat them with the butter sauce, and keep them warm while you proceed with the remaining batches. Top with grated Parmesan and serve.
- Place the cooked spinach in a large bowl with the ricotta, eggs and Parmigiano and mix together. Add the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cover a cutting board or counter top with flour. Use two teaspoons to form small balls with the spinach mixture and roll in the flour. When all the mixture has been made into balls, place several at a time into the boiling water and cook until they begin to float, 2- 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a serving dish.
- In a small skillet, over low heat, melt the butter with the sage. Pour over the gnudi.
- Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano.
Let’s discuss weighty matters. Nah, forget it. Let’s just get naked. Or, we could do both. With gnudi.
Gnocchi is a general term for “dumplings” in Italian, usually referring to the most popular type, made with potato. Many people incorrectly perceive gnocchi as dense and heavy, but real, Italian, handmade gnocchi are light and fluffy. And gnudi are even lighter. Gnudi is an alternative term for gnocchi in Tuscany, where they are often made with ricotta and without potato. (Gnudi are also sometimes called “naked ravioli,” since they are essentially the filling without the pasta cover or because the word gnudi sounds like nudi, or naked in Italian.)
In summary, bad gnocchi are heavy and dense, good gnocchi are light and fluffy, and gnudi are their beautiful and svelte Tuscan cousins. Now, enough talk, let’s get gnudi.
2 thoughts on &ldquoGnudi di Spinaci e Ricotta (Spinach)&rdquo
Wow. I never knew about gnudi. Since gnocchi – all 4 tons of the way they feel after eating – are delicious little things I avoid. But gnudi…! Let alone spinach which I adore. A revelation – Grazie!
P.S. Your photo alone is edible.
You reminded me of a long lost recipe that was a family favorite. It was called Spinach Gnocci back then. When I e-mailed your recent post to my daughters, one response was, “That was my favorite.” So, tonight for our Lenten dinner, we will have Gnudi.
Nephew Chris, on the cutting edge in London, introduced me to Burrata and spoke of Gnudi just recently. Then your recipe arrives.