Gnudi are soft and light-as-a-cloud balls of ricotta and spinach, like the filling of the classic Ravioli but without the pasta. They are a traditional dish in Tuscany and they're usually served with butter and sage or with a flavorful tomato sauce.
When you're little you think the food you eat is the same as everybody else in the world. You don't really understand the concept of regional cuisine. You think you would find the same snack everywhere in the world. Then you grow up, move to a different country, and realize you cannot eat your favorite breakfast anymore and you cannot eat your favorite cheese any day you want.
I wish I knew how much I would miss my regional food when I was little, I would've never said no to that plate of Tagliatelle al Ragù or homemade Lasagne. But we can't know that in advance, unfortunately. And it's funny how I get excited now to eat something that I always gave for granted when I was little.
Thankfully most of Tuscan recipes are easy to make with easy-to-find ingredients so I can have a taste of home more often. Like these Gnudi.
What is Gnudi?
"Gnudi" literally means "naked" in Tuscan dialect. And the reason it's quite simple. Gnudi are practically dumplings made with the filling of the classic Ravioli or Cannelloni: Ricotta and Spinach. So it's like a naked Raviolo, stripped out of its pasta clothes.
This recipe has ancient origins in the countryside of Tuscany, where peasants were growing vegetables and having cow farms. That's why the original recipe is made with cow's milk Ricotta, although nowadays is common to also use sheep's milk Ricotta. They're very similar to Ricotta Gnocchi but with the addition of greens.
If the spinach were not available, it was common to use other greens to make Gnudi, like chards.
Can you freeze Gnudi?
Yes! Just like pasta and gnocchi, it's very easy to freeze Gnudi.
After you created your dumplings, coat them in flour or corn starch and place them on a plate covered with parchment paper, making sure they're well distanced and not touching each other.
Put the plate in your freezer and freeze for about 1 hour. Then you can remove the dumplings from the plate and add them in a freezer bag.
You can keep them frozen for about 1 month. When you're ready to cook, toss them directly in salted boiling water without thawing first.
If you like this recipe, try also these other Tuscan recipes:
- Classic Tuscan Lasagna
- "Pappa al Pomodoro" Tuscan bread and tomatoes
- "Tortelli Mugellani" Tuscan Potato Ravioli
"Gnudi" Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi
For the Gnudi
- 1 Garlic clove
- 14 oz Frozen Spinach, see Notes for fresh spinach
- 9 oz fresh Ricotta
- 5 tablespoon Parmigiano cheese, grated
- 1 Egg yolk
- 7 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
- Black Pepper
- Nutmeg, ground
For the Tomato Sauce
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- 10.5 oz Tomato purèe
- 3-4 Basil leaves
- Olive Oil
- In a pan, drizzle the olive oil and add the halved garlic clove and the spinach. Season with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg and sautè for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the excess liquids as much as possible, by squeezing the spinach, then set them aside in a bowl to cool down.
- While the spinach is cooling, start preparing the sauce. In a pot, add the olive oil, the minced garlic and the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer then add the basil leaves and lower the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Add the cooled spinach to the ricotta cheese, add the Parmigiano cheese and season again if needed. Then add the egg yolk and half of the flour.
- Mix all the ingredients and add more flour until you get a thicker consistency.
- With a tablespoon, make the balls and roll them in flour. Set them on a plate or floured surface to rest. If they seem too soft, you may want to test one in boiling water. If it melts and doesn't keep the shape, you will need to add more flour to the dough.
- When they're all ready, toss them gently in the boiling water one by one.
- Boil for 2-3 minutes, until they come up to the surface. Remove them with a skimmer and add them to the tomato sauce or directly in the serving plates.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.