These soft, pillowy dumplings are made with ricotta cheese and spinach. Serve these Spinach Gnudi on a bed of homemade tomato sauce for the perfect family-friendly meal.
If you are looking for a fun vegetarian dish that the whole family will love, try my Spinach Gnudi. Although gnudi are a traditional Italian dish, they really started making waves in the foodie community when they appeared on the menu at the award-winning New York City restaurant The Spotted Pig.
My husband and I went there for our anniversary years ago and immediately understood what all the hype was about. These tasty morsels with a funny name were delicious!
Now a popular item on many top restaurant menus, gnudi are fortunately easy enough to make at home, thus proving that the best dishes are often the simplest ones.
What are Gnudi?
Gnudi literally means “nude” in Italian and that's exactly what they are- naked ravioli. Picture the filling in ravioli minus the pasta- that's gnudi!
Unlike gnocchi which are primarily made with potatoes and flour, these soft and pillowy dumplings are made with ricotta cheese and egg held together with just a small amount of flour.
I also stir spinach, nutmeg and freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese into the mix for extra flavor. The result is a fluffy ball of goodness with a soft, creamy interior.
How To Make Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper together in a bowl.
Next, put a pile of flour on a cutting board and drop large spoonfuls of the dough onto it.
Roll the dough in the flour, forming balls. Dust off any excess flour. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Then, chill the gnudi in the fridge.
When ready to serve, cook the spinach gnudi in simmering water.
Drain and serve them on a bed of tomato sauce. Garnish with grated cheese.
- 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.
- Chill the gnudi in the fridge before cooking. This helps to firm them up slightly so that they don't fall apart during the cooking process.
- 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.
- You'll know they're done when, after about four minutes, they float to the surface and beckon you to eat them.
How to Serve Spinach Gnudi
Because you want the flavor of the spinach gnudi to shine through, I would recommend serving them with either a simple browned butter sauce or tomato sauce.
I’ve included my Simple Tomato Sauce recipe in the recipe card below. It's an easy sauce that you can make while the gnudi are chilling in the fridge.
However, 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!
More Italian Recipes
- 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 ⅔ 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
Simple Tomato Sauce:
- 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
- ⅛ 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 ½ 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.