‘Gnudi’ meaning ‘nude’ in Italian, are what the Florentines call tender little dumplings that are very similar to gnocchi, except that they are made with ricotta rather than potato, which gives them a far more delicate texture. They’re lightly scented with nutmeg, and refreshingly light and doughless compared to your usual pasta dish. This recipe below uses frozen spinach and store bought tomato sauce, but it is entirely to you whether you choose to use freshly prepared spinach and home made tomato sauce for a more luxurious finish, or whether you are looking for a quick and easy meal which takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. But hey, it’s perfectly ok to be lazy sometimes, when the outcome is equally satisfying.
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese (I purchased mine from Harris farm)
250g Birds Eye® chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 egg yolk
1 small pinch of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 shallow bowl of flour for dusting
1 jar Barilla basilico tomato sauce (or any other of your favorite brands)
In a large bowl, mix ricotta, chopped spinach, cheese, egg and yolk.
After reaching a consistency similar to spinach dip, fold in nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour.
Now we need to use this mixture to make our gnudi balls. 1 tablespoonful makes a good sized gnudi. I find it’s much easier to spoon the mixture into the shallow bowl with flour, and roll it around a few times before picking it up with your hands, otherwise it gets a little too sticky to work with. Gently roll the floured ball around in your palms to shake off any excess flour and shape them into spheres around 1.5 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
While you’re making the gnudis, fill a pot with water and turn on a medium heat. Salt the water.
The most important thing is to leave the water boiling very gently. The gnudi is so delicate that a bubbling boil would tear it apart. Slowly lower the gnudi into the hot water with a spoon. You don’t have to cook them all at once, so just boil a few at a time.
After a few minutes, you’ll see them float to the top – this means they’re cooked and ready! Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon, holding it just above the pot to drain off all the excess water before putting it on your serving dish.
While you are slowly cooking the gnudi, empty half a jar of tomato sauce into a small saucepan and start heating it up on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Arrange gnudi on a platter and top with tomato sauce. Shave some extra Parmigiano Reggiano on top and watch it melt with the warm sauce.
This is one for the vegetarians out there – how can you not love it?