Gnudi is a light, pillowy variation on gnocchi. It’s pronounced, “nudie.” For that reason alone, it’s a popular dish around our office. And today we’re sharing our favorite version with this easy recipe for gnudi. But what is gnudi, exactly?
What is Gnudi?
Gnudi is basically the stuffing of a ravioli. In other words, they’re fluffy cheese dumplings.
These small, pillow-shaped pastas are made from a base of ricotta and sometimes include spinach, as they do in my gnudi recipe below.
Some history of Gnudi ricotta pasta in Italy
In Tuscany where the pasta originated, gnudi made without spinach are sometimes called ricotta gnocchi. And in other parts of Italy, ricotta gnocchi are sometimes called strangolapreti. This apparently translates to “priest choker.”
I have absolutely no idea why such an elegant pasta would be anointed with such a name. However, among the American names for these fluffy pillows of cheese, is “naked ravioli.” How can you not love that? For more information on Italy’s gnocchi history, I like this article from Saveur.
A recipe for gnudi for a romantic dinner
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a suggestive name. Just saying, “Gnudi” brings a smile to my lips. Try it!
But what I truly love about this recipe, more than rolling this silly word across my tongue, is the ease of this simple recipe.
This gnudi recipe is great for beginners. It’s one you can count on for a special evening without having to spend the whole day in the kitchen, yet it still feels like a homemade pasta meal. This is something I look for in a great date night recipe.
Of course, there’s also the fact that nearly every ingredient has aphrodisiac potential, which gives this recipe – and you – an extra edge in serving it for a night of seduction.
A gnocchi made with ricotta instead of potato and semolina, good gnudi recipes like this one stars the aphrodisiac of cheese. If you didn’t realize cheese has the power to excite the flames of passion, you need to read my article on the aphrodisiac power of cheese.
But cheese is not the only aphrodisiac incorporated into my gnudi recipe. To bind the filling you use the aphrodisiac of eggs. And to bring the flavor complexity, you mix in Parmesan – more cheese!
Although in Tuscany, gnudi is often tossed with sage butter before serving, I recommend topping this gnudi with your favorite marinara. After all, tomato is considered by some historians to be the original forbidden fruit.
The importance of gnudi ricotta
Because the ricotta is the star of this simple recipe, it needs to be good. I recommend using whole milk ricotta. Some chefs recommend using a traditional sheep’s milk ricotta. (Ricotta is traditionally made from whey. But in the United States, the most commonly sold ricotta is made from whole milk not whey.)
For this recipe, I recommend the whole milk ricotta because I like the creamy consistency it gives this fluffy gnudi. But make sure you get a flavorful ricotta. It is a cheese with subtle flavor but it should have an etherial quality and faintly sweet and salty flavor. Some grocery store brands are virtually flavorless.
A naturally low-carb pasta
And because this recipe for gnudi uses cheese for a base, this is one Italian recipe that’s naturally low carb.
To make gluten-free gnudi
As you can see in the recipe below, in my recipe, the gnudi contains a modest amount of wheat flour. However, those with sensitivities can make a gluten-free version with rice flour in place of the all-purpose flour.
Light, simple and slightly exotic, this gnudi recipe at the top of my list for a weeknight date night. And to add to the aphrodisiac experience, why not serve it with a crisp, white, Italian wine like this Bianco from Cinque Terra.
Low-Carb Spinach Gnudi (naked ravioli)
- 1 c whole milk ricotta
- 10 oz frozen spinach thawed
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 c freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour (for a gluten-free version, use rice flour)
- 3/4 c flour for coating
- 1 1/2 c your favorite marinara sauce
- In a strainer lined with cheese cloth or a coffee filter, drain the ricotta for at least 1 hour. In a separate strainer, drain the spinach.
- Add the egg and egg yolk to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 1 minute.
- Add the ricotta and beat for an additional minute.
- Squeeze the spinach to get out any extra water then add it, along with the Parmesan, to the bowl. Stir in the salt and pepper as well as the flour and thoroughly mix.
- Pour a little flour onto your cooking surface and coat your hands with some extra to help keep the dough from sticking.
- Form the ricotta mixture into balls slightly smaller than golf balls.
- Dredge each ball in the flour and set aside to rest while you bring a pot of water to a boil.
- When the water is boiling, slide the gnudi into the water, being careful not to crowd the pan. You may need to cook in batches. Cook until they all float to the top and have firmed up, about 4 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnudi to paper towels to drain.
- Serve with warm marinara.
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