A few tips will ensure success when making this dish. First of all, make sure you squeeze all of the water out of the spinach so that it’s very dry. If there is a lot of moisture in the spinach, it will affect the consistency of the dough. Secondly, chill the gnudi in the fridge before cooking. This helps to firm them up slightly so they don’t fall apart during the cooking process. And finally, when it’s time to cook the gnudi, bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat until it’s just simmering. If you drop them into strongly boiling water, they are more likely to burst open. I like to put the uncooked gnudi on a slotted spoon and gently lower them into the water. How will you know when they’re done? After about four minutes, they’ll float to the surface and beckon you to eat them.Although this dish is traditionally made with fresh, homemade ricotta cheese, I decided to break from tradition and use part-skim ricotta to cut down on some calories and fat. Because you want the flavor of the gnudi to shine through, I would recommend serving them with either a simple browned butter sauce or tomato sauce. I’ve included a basic tomato sauce recipe that is so easy, you can make it while the gnudi are chilling in the fridge. If you’re pressed for time, simply heat up some of your favorite jarred sauce. Your kids will also love this family-friendly dish so get your little helpers ready in the kitchen- they’ll love playing with the sticky dough and rolling the dumplings around in the flour. Buon appetito!
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed very dry
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2.5 ounces freshly grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2/3 cup) plus extra for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided use
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, optional
- Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg yolks, Pecorino, nutmeg, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup flour until a sticky dough forms.
- Pile the remaining cup of flour on a cutting board or plate. Drop a large spoonful of the dough (slightly larger than the size of a walnut) onto the flour and lightly toss it around in the flour until it is coated.
- Gently form the dough into a ball with your hands, shaking off any excess flour.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have about 24 gnudi in total. Discard the remaining flour or save for another use. Chill the gnudi in the fridge for 15 minutes while you make the sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes. Season the sauce with the oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes and then stir in the basil.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Working in batches, place the gnudi on a slotted spoon and gently lower them into the water. Cook the gnudi until they float to the surface of the water, about 4 minutes. Carefully remove them with a slotted spoon.
- To serve, spoon some tomato sauce onto each plate and place the gnudi on top. Garnish with grated cheese.
For nutritional calculations, I did not include the full 1 cup flour used for dredging the gnudi but rather used 1/4 cup, which is the amount of flour that adhered to the gnudi (the rest is discarded).
What’s your favorite restaurant dish that you like (or would like) to recreate at home?