Gnudi is an English-adopted Tuscan word meaning nude, the idea being these dumplings are ravioli minus the pasta.
Take care not to add too much flour to the mixture as excess flour makes the dumplings dense and unpalatable. Also note the ricotta needs to be drained ahead of time. To drain the ricotta, place it in a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth. Place the strainer in a mixing bowl, cover the cheese with excess cheese cloth, and weigh it down with a can of tomatoes or something else heavy in your fridge. Let it drain overnight in the fridge, if time allows. If you’re pressed for time, you can squeeze the ricotta dry in the cheese cloth or a tea towel, then proceed with the recipe.
This recipe requires fresh ricotta, not the waterlogged stuff you find in most supermarkets. Some grocery stores sell fresh ricotta in the specialty foods section. Otherwise, it’s quite simple to make ricotta at home. I like to serve these with Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce.
Ricotta Gnudi in Tomato sauce
-460 g ricotta (roughly 1 3/4 C)
-275 g sauteed spinach, drained well and finely chopped (roughly 10 oz raw)
-1 lemon, zested
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-Freshly cracked black pepper
-1/2 C pecorino (use pecorino toscano if you’re keeping it classic)
-1 t kosher salt
-1 egg + 1 egg yolk
-1/4-1/2 C semolina flour
-1 batch of Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce
Place a 4-quart sauce pan filled with water on the stove to boil. Once it comes to a boil, season the water liberally with salt as you would for pasta.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, lemon zest, garlic, black pepper, pecorino, salt, and egg + egg yolk. Fold in 1/4 cup of semolina flour. Spread the rest of the semolina on a half sheet tray. Form the dumplings into quenelles using two spoons, or roll them into 1/2-inch balls. Try to handle them as little as possible. as they can be sticky and difficult to shape.
Turn down the water to a gentle simmer, then carefully drop the gnudi in the water. Cook until the center is firm and no longer doughy (to test the doneness, remove one from the water and cut into the center to make sure there’s no raw dough lingering in the center).
Strain the gnudi onto a clean half sheet tray drizzled with olive oil. Toss them gently to coat them in the oil, then serve in a small pool of warmed pomodoro sauce. Top with pecorino and a few grinds of black pepper.