The gnudi are "naked ravioli," because they use only the filling without the fresh pasta "clothing". This Tuscan specialty is served as a primo piatto (pasta course); they are round or oval-shaped, and usually tinged with green from the spinach in the dough. The Gnudi (pronounced basically like "ny-OO-dee") taste like spinach-ricotta ravioli -but without the laborious rolling out of pasta dough. The recipe has been handed down over time, originating from a rural tradition where the ingredients would have been locally sourced: ricotta, spinach and cheese. The gnudi are mainly homemade, a "down home" meal; you won't easily find them for sale in stores.
- 220 grams fresh ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
- 200 grams of spinach (one bunch, cleaned well)
- 50 grams grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 egg yolks
Blanch the spinach in a little boiling salted water. Remove from heat, drain and let cool to room temperature. Squeeze them well with your hands to remove the remaining liquid, and transfer them to a cutting board and chop it.
Flour the work surface. Begin to incorporate the ingredients: first the ricotta cheese with the spinach, then Parmesan, nutmeg, some salt and pepper, and finally the egg yolks (one at a time, stirring well each time). The dough should be compact but not hard. If it is too soft, add a few spoonfuls of flour.
Knead the mixture well with your hands; form into a ball and let it rest a couple of minutes. At this point, boil a pot of water for cooking (with salt, of course) and start forming the "Gnudi". Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut (or if you prefer, even larger, sort of like small meatballs); roll into a ball or form into an oval. Place it on a floured tray. Continue until you've used all the dough.
Drop the Gnudi into the boiling water a few at a time; boil about 3 minutes then lift out with a slotted spoon. Once they're boiled, you can toss them with butter and sage (most traditional) or serve topped with hot tomato sauce.
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