Gnudi recipe is an Italian dish that can be a greedy alternative to the classic potato gnocchi recipe. They are a sort of small dumpling made with ricotta cheese and chopped spinach. Ricotta makes them pillowy soft, delicate and irresistible.
The recipe of gnudi is one of the most typical dishes of Tuscany, a classic comfort food of the Italian tradition, made with simple ingredients. Gnudi can be thought of as nude ravioli, as the ingredients are the same to ravioli filling. You give them a round or elongated oval shape then boil and season as you like.
“Gnudi” (It: nudi) in the Tuscan dialect means “naked”: an appropriate name since we are talking about the filling of ravioli without its external coating, the ravioli pasta, and therefore served “naked”. The “g” is silent in the pronunciation; so gnudi is pronounced “nyoo-dee” or simply “noo-dee.”
Like all traditional dishes there are many versions of gnudi reccipe with small differences. Each family has its own recipe: there are those who use spinach and those who prefer wild herbs or chicory; others prefer ricotta gnudi without spinach; some season them with butter and sage and others with tomato sauce. So you can choose the variant you prefer: the ingredients change but the method of preparation is the same for all of them.
- 400 gr (14 oz) of fresh spinach or 500 gr (1,1 lb) of frozen spinach
- 400 gr (14 oz) of ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 2 medium eggs
- 160 gr (6 oz) of all purpose flour
- a pinch of grated nutmeg
- 160 gr (6 oz) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- salt and pepper to taste
For the seasoning
- 90 g (3 oz) of unsalted butter
- 5/6 sage leaves
How to Make Gnudi
NOTE: For RICOTTA GNUDI RECIPE jump to step 4!
Step 1) – Boil the spinach in very little salted water for about 5 minutes. Then drain them very well, squeezing to drain the water with the help of a fork.
Step 2) – Chop up the spinach with a knife on a cutting board or with scissors on a plate. DO NOT use an electric vegetable grinder to avoid making the spinach a mush. Place the spinach in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and cook them on medium/high heat for 2/3 minutes to flavor and dry them even more.
Step 3) – Let the spinach cool a little then place them in a large bowl and add the ricotta, stirring with a fork.
Step 4) – Then add the eggs and the grated parmigiano. Mix to combine.
NOTE FOR RICOTTA GNUDI RECIPE: If you want to make ricotta gnudi, skip the first 3 steps and proceed immediately by mixing the ricotta with the eggs and parmigiano as described in step 4. Then go on with the following steps. The quantity of ingredients without the spinach is for 4 people.
Step 5) – Add enough nutmeg to flavor the mixture well, preferably freshly grated. Then start to incorporate the flour little by little, keeping to stir with a spoon until the mixture is well blended and very soft.
Step 6) – Now it’s time to give gnudi a shape. You can choose between a round or oval shape. As you like best. We are going to show you how to make gnudi with a rather elongated oval shape, like the traditional Italian recipe. So first cover a tray with baking paper with plenty of flour. The dough must be very soft and could stick to the fingers, so help yourself with two spoons and make the classic oval shape of about 5 cm (2 inch).
Step 7) – Whenever the gnudi are ready, place them on the floured tray, well spaced from each other.
Gnudi should be eaten immediately but can be kept in the refrigerator for one day. They can be frozen both cooked and raw and can be kept for about 1 month in the freezer.
How to Cook Gnudi
In addition to the method described above, there are other ways to cook gnudi. Let’s see some of them
Stir fried Gnudi
After boiling, you can stir-fry gnudi in a pan with butter and sage for a few minutes. This step makes gnudi certainly tastier but also heavier because they fry in butter.
If you cannot serve gnudi immediately or you prefer a more crunchy consistency, after having drained, place them in a baking dish. Sprinkle with grate parmigiano and butter Then brown in the oven at 200°C (390 F) with grill on for a few minutes. Remove and let them rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Gnudi Recipe Two Main Ingredients: Ricotta and Spinach
Ricotta cheese for gnudi recipe must be very dry and firm. If your ricotta is too fresh and soft, it’s better to drain it in a colander for about two hours to make it lose the excess liquid. Cow ricotta and sheep ricotta are both cheeses used to make gnudi in Italy, depending on the region and tastes. If you want to make ricotta gnudi, see note on step 4.
For this recipe, you can use both fresh spinach or frozen spinach. Using fresh spinach is always better (the taste of gnudi is really better!), but it takes longer to clean and wash them, very often they have a lot of dirt. For frozen spinach, just dip them directly in boiling salted water for a few minutes and they are ready to use. The squeezing is essential to have the spinach as dry as possible. If you don’t like the taste of spinach or want a different flavor, you can replace them with chard or chicory.
Tuscan Gnudi and Lombard Malfatti
What is the difference between Tuscan gnudi and Lombard malfatti? In truth, there is little difference between these two typical Italian dishes
Malfatti are very popular in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy, especially in Brescia. The name “Malfatti” means badly done that is with no shape, because with their soft texture it is difficult to give them a beautiful and precise shape. Malfatti are a sort of dumplings made with ricotta, spinach, eggs, flour as for gnudi recipe but with the addition of breadcrumbs in the mixture in place of flour.
There is a place in the famous Napa Valley in California where Malfatti have become a legend and are almost more famous than the fine wines of this renowned area. A family of Italians from Lombardy many years ago brought the Malfatti recipe to California and it has been handed down from generation to generation until today.
The Cittoni family’s Malfatti with ricotta and spinach have become very famous and well known in Napa Valley. In addition to visiting the exclusive wineries, tourists from Napa Valley often go specifically to enjoy the famous Italian Malfatti and this is a great pride for Italian cuisine!