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TIP OF THE DAY: Gnudi, Naked Ravioli

Herb-laced gnudi. Photo © Comugnero
Silvana | Fotolia.

 

Do you like gnocchi, ravioli and tortellini, but not the carbs? Get to know gnudi: It’s the filling without the pasta or the potatoes. Essentially, gnudi are a low-carb way to enjoy pasta.

Chef Johnny Gnall shares an easy gnudi recipe. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

GNOCCHI VERSUS GNUDI

Gnocchi, Italian for dumplings (pronounced NYOH-kee) are chewy pillows that are shaped into little balls or ovals. They are most often made with white or sweet potatoes, then boiled, baked or fried. They can be flavored: basil, spinach, tomato and saffron are popular. They’re served with butter and grated Parmesan cheese or a sauce.

Gnudi (pronounced NYOO-dee) means nude in Italian. Gnudi consist of pasta filling—what you find inside tortellini or ravioli—shaped into small, flattened balls without any dough. A common recipe includes ricotta, spinach and Parmesan cheese. The gnudi are then sautéed or baked.

 

Gnudi can be served with marinara sauce, mushroom ragoût, pan-sautéed cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, crispy pancetta or whatever inspires you. You can cook them in herb butter, or in plain butter with a sprinkle of fresh herbs atop the gnudi. I like the traditional brown butter-sage sauce.

Gnudi are referred to as “cousins” of gnocchi because both are dumpling-like, but gnocchi are typically chewy and heavy from the potato, and potato-less gnudi are delicate pillows bound with egg and cheese.

The recipe below calls for spinach, but you can substitute any hearty green—I also enjoy it with chard or kale. Basic gnudi with just egg, cheese, and a little flour, but the greens help bind and give the gnudi a nice color.

Take your time when first making gnudi: Like any dough, especially one with such low flour content, it takes a while to get a feel for the process. The small amount of flour, however, helps to keep your dough from getting quickly overworked and tough.

I like gnudi with a sage and brown butter sauce, but they work well with any number of sauces. Even something as simple as some melted butter and fresh grated Parmesan will make them absolutely delicious!

 

GNUDI RECIPE WITH RICOTTA AND SPINACH

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound puréed spinach
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 ounces of fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces flour
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  •  

    Gnudi before cooking. Photo courtesy Robert Love’s Food and Recipe Blog. Check out his recipe and photos of gnudi-in-progress.

  • 8 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for optional garnish
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Truffle salt
  • Fried sage leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Make the sauce. Melt butter in a sauté pan and cook until it begins to turn golden brown (do not overcook or the butter may burn). Add sage; stir and and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside.

    2. Remove water from spinach. It’s important that you remove most of the water from your spinach, or the dough will never come together. Press the pureed spinach against a mesh strainer and then hang it to drain for 30 minutes.

    3. Combine ricotta and spinach. Thoroughly incorporate, then add the beaten egg, a couple of pinches of salt, and Parmesan. Mix well. Taste a bit of your mixture and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.

    4. Add the flour. The actual amount of flour may vary slightly depending on anything from the moisture content of the ricotta to the moisture in the atmosphere. Too much flour could make the gnudi dense and heavy; not enough flour, and the gnudi might fall apart. Therefore, bring everything together and test the consistency by dropping a spoonful into some boiling water. If it holds its general shape and doesn’t come apart in the water, you’ve nailed it!

    5. Shape the gnudi. Using two spoons, form your gnudi into quenelles (oval shapes) and lay them on a cookie sheet, tray or clean surface. One they are ready to go, drop them into seasoned boiling water in batches. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your pot, or the gnudi will jostle one another and likely fall apart. Once the dumplings float to the surface, they should take about a minute to cook. Exact cooking time may vary, so it do a tester or two and see which time suits your taste.

    6. Sauce and serve. Right before serving, return the brown butter to the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend, then add the gnudi and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

    FRIED SAGE LEAVES RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh sage (or however many leaves you want for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Wash and dry sage and remove stems. Be sure that the leaves are thoroughly dry before frying (when we don’t have time to air dry, we use a hair dryer!).

    2. Heat oil in a small pan over medium-high heat.

    3. Fry sage leaves until crisp, 2–3 seconds. Do not crowd in the pan; fry in batches if necessary.

    4. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Reserve until ready to serve.

     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF PASTA HAVE YOU TRIED?

    Check out the delicious options in our Pasta Glossary.

      





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