This is a Guest post by Coral Sisk, author of Curious Appetite a food blog of Italian travel and enogastronomy. Coral is currently in Seattle starting a business of Italian travel consults and gourmet tours. Thanks to the networking power of Foodportunity, she is now collaborating with the Pike Place Market this fall for a market tour and cooking demo in late October. This culinary event at the Pike Place Market will demonstrate farm-to-table cooking with Tuscan Gnudi while tasting though the Pike Place Market. You can connect with Coral on facebook as Curious Appetite and twitter as “Curious Appetite.”
How to make Italian Gnudi
Part of my job in Italy was to occasionally assist cooks during cooking classes and we made an array of traditional Tuscan recipes. As a result, one of the recipes I mastered was Tuscan Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi dumplings. Let me start by explaining what exactly are Gnudi. In Italian, nudo means naked. And in Tuscan, gnudo (pronounced like gnocchi) means naked as well. Gnudi are what I like to call “naked ravioli,” after all ricotta and spinach are a common filling for ravioli. Essentially- gnudi is a peasant food! Can you believe it? Velvety ricotta, nutty aged sheep’s milk cheese and spinach…poor man’s food? Why yes! Ri-cotta means “re-cooked.” It is the leftover whey from making more noble cheeses like mozzarella and fior di latte. This is part of the reason why the Italians are genius. They found delicious ways to sneak in every part of food so nothing would go to waste.
Gnudi are made by mixing various quantities of ricotta, grated sheep’s milk pecorino, chopped cooked spinach flour, egg (to glue it all together!) plus salt and pepper. The secret ingredient in this is: fresh, ground nutmeg. The mixture is portioned out in small rounds and rolled in flour to give it a protective coating for cooking.
Here are more details for a recipe:
Serves 6-8 people
- 8oz (1 cup firmly packed) of cooked, chopped spinach
- 16oz fresh sheep’s ricotta
- 1 egg
- 2 oz (¼ cup) grated pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese
- fresh, ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup “00” flour for both the mixture and additional for the coating
Gnudi Sage and Butter Sauce:
- 12 sage leaves
- 160g (5 3/4 oz) butter
grated pecorino or parmesan cheese for final topping
- Cook the spinach in lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes. OR thaw out some frozen chopped spinach. Drain spinach well and once cooled, chop spinach pretty finely.
- Prepare a bowl to make the cheese mixture. Combine ricotta, parmesan, chopped (cooled) spinach, sifted “00” flour, eggs and some nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork. The mixture should be pretty smooth.
- Sprinkle your work surface or a large plate with some flour and start to mold out some gnudi by hand! Make sure the rounds are about 2 tablespoons big- think goldilocks here. Not too big, not too small.
- Prepare a pot of salted water and bring to boil. Lightly drop the gnudi into your pot. The gnudi need 5 minutes to cook. In the meantime, melt the butter in a small pan with the sage leaves. If overcooked, the butter will turn brown and the sage leaves will burn.
- When your 5 minutes have passed, toss the cooked gnudi with the melted butter and sage sauce and add some grated pecorino cheese to each plate of gnudi. Gnudi are also tasty with your favorite tomato based sauce.
Gnudi are quite filling- don’t let the portion size mislead you! I would say about 4-6 gnudi a person is a good portion to aim for. Remember- these are pure cheese balls! If you are like me and believe that a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine, I recommend pairing gnudi with a light Tuscan Chianti red wine or a rich, dry Chardonnay, Viognier…otherwise a dry prosecco would also be just fine if you are also like me and look for any reason to sneak in bubbly.
If you will be in Seattle this Fall, I will be offering a Market Tour and cooking demo of Tuscan Gnudi at the Pike Place Market. In Late October, I will be taking folks to taste through the markets and meet its best purveyors of the Pacific Northwest bounty and follow up with a hands-on cooking demo (and light lunch) of these Tuscan Gnudi! Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/870711 10% of the ticket proceeds goes towards the Pike Place Market Foundation. Hope to cook and taste with you this Fall at the market!