Dining with the Doc: Spinach Gnudi



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 a few 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.  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 light, pillow-like dumplings are made with ricotta cheese and egg and held together with just a small amount of flour.  Spinach, nutmeg and freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese are also stirred into the mix for extra flavor.  The result is a fluffy ball of goodness with a soft, creamy interior.

A few tips will ensure success when making this dish.  First of all, 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.  Secondly, chill the gnudi in the fridge before cooking.  This helps to firm them up slightly so they don't fall apart during the cooking process.  And finally, 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.  How will you know when they're done?  After about four minutes, they'll float to the surface and beckon you to eat them.

Although this dish is traditionally made with fresh, homemade ricotta cheese, I decided to break from tradition and use part-skim ricotta to cut down on some calories and fat.  Because you want the flavor of the gnudi to shine through, I would recommend serving them with either a simple browned butter sauce or tomato sauce.  I’ve included a basic tomato sauce recipe that is so easy, you can make it while the gnudi are chilling in the fridge.  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!




Spinach Gnudi
Makes 6 servings

Gnudi:
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 2/3 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
1/8 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 1/2 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. 


One Serving (approximately 4 gnudi with tomato sauce): Calories 329; Fat 16.9g (Sat 7.7g); Protein 20g; Carb 25.6g; Fiber 3.4g


Note: For nutritional calculations, I did not include the full 1 cup flour used for dredging the gnudi but rather used 1/4 cup, which is the amount of flour that adhered to the gnudi (the rest is discarded).


What's your favorite restaurant dish that you like (or would like) to recreate at home?

33 comments :

  1. Man, I would love these! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Sonali!

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  2. Wow!! Now this is something I'm going to make! Love your tips, too!! I can see so many variations of it! xoxo Aly

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    1. Great! Let me know how it goes if you try it! They're also really good plain (no spinach) with a sage browned butter sauce.

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  3. Ive never had gnudi - I need to give it a try.

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    1. You won't regret it! Thanks for visiting!

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    2. I wanted to let you know that I featured this today in my "What I Bookmarked This Week" post - stop by and see.

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  4. I am so going to try this recipe! Thank you Sonali!

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    1. Please let me know how it goes if you try it!

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  5. I've never heard of gnudi before, but it sounds delicious! It also sounds a lot easier to make than ravioli or gnocchi. I'm going to pin this because I definitely want to give it a try!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! Yes, they're easy to make and they always come out light and pillowy unlike gnocchi which can be a little trickier. Hope you like them!

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  6. Laviza (eclecticgourmet)March 1, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    these look delish!

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  7. These look great. I'll happily give them a go.

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    1. Thanks Lynda! Let me know how it goes if you try them!

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  8. Have never heard of gnudi in an Italian restaurant.
    I love any dish with spinach!
    Sounds fairly easy and less dougy than regular gnocchis. Definitely going to try it. I can freeze the extra gnudis.

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    1. Thanks, ur! Yes they are easy to make and not chewy or doughy at all like gnocchi can sometimes be. I've never freezer them before but that sounds like a great idea!

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  9. Definitely one of those MUST TRY in my kitchen! Thanks for sharing! Exciting to try new dishes!

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    1. Thanks so much! Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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  10. I just linked up this recipe on Amee's Savory Dish! http://www.ameessavorydish.com/2012/07/fit-and-fabulous-fridays-39.html

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  11. Hi Sonali :) This is coming on my list of "new things" to try. It looks quite delicious. .

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  12. These are so gorgeous Sonali! Thank you for sharing at Fit and Fabulous Fridays!! I've got to try these soon. I hope your move goes well. I'll be thinking of you. Have a great evening.

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  13. I linked up this recipe on Katherine Martinelli's blog- http://www.katherinemartinelli.com/blog/2012/ricotta-gnocchi-and-a-cheese-blog-hop/

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  14. This is fantastic. I've never had anything like this.

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  15. So pretty, so easy, so tasty! We are going to feature these on our Facebook page so everyone can see how to make them! Please tell your followers to come LIKE us on Facebook for more recipes and tips on greens like kale, chard, beet, mustard, turnip, collard, escarole, dandelion and other green leafies. https://www.facebook.com/Cut.n.Clean.Greens

    --Your friendly Southern California farmers at Cut `n Clean Greens
    https://www.facebook.com/Cut.n.Clean.Greens

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  16. Sonali, these are fabulous! I am totally making these very soon! Pinned and bookmarked. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Hey...thanks for posting these, I can't wait to try them!!! Just one problem though, I am a pure vegetarian and hence no eggs for me :( can you plz tell me if I can make these without eggs, and what should I use as substitute??
    Thanks!

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    1. That's a good question but unfortunately, I don't have a good answer because the egg is what holds the gnudi together so that they don't fall apart in the water. Perhaps you could try a vegetarian egg substitute?

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  18. I was just thinking about pasta for dinner tonight, but I think I'll try these instead. They sound wonderful and so easy to make.

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  19. These look great, Sonali...when in Italy at cooking school we made these, and I love them...yours are fabulous!! xo

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