I’ve been wanting to make pasta for an extremely long time, but understand it’s a tricky art and lack the luxury of an older Italian grandmother to teach me the skills. I decided to begin my quest to conquer the pasta world by starting with the anti-pasta, gnudi, typically described as the a light dumpling, or just the filling to ravioli. Scott Conant highlighted his Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi, a favorite dish of his on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Made.
I opted to modify the dish a bit, using a sage brown butter sauce instead of a porcini mushroom version, due to the costly nature of dried porcini’s and the inability to find fresh ones at my usually reliable Fairway.
This dish is easy and extremely difficult all at once, and my final product looked far from pretty, but damn, they tasted pretty wonderful.
The only planning required is draining 1 pound of ricotta, preventing the gnudi from containing too much liquid. Use a strainer, or a coffee filter and allow it to sit for at least two hours. The difference is really astonishing.
After this, it’s just a matter of combining all of the ingredients together and getting a little bit messy. Bring the water to a boil and drop a small ball of the mixed batter in. Allow to cook until the gnudi floats to the top. Immediately drop the gnudi into an ice water bath. Trust me, this step is crucial. The gnudi keep their distinct round shape by being shocked in chilly water. Allow it to sit in the ice for about 3-4 minutes (I didn’t do this on my first try and the results were flat, but delicious pieces of mush).
Repeat these steps until all of the batter has transformed into fluffy balls.
In the meantime, heat 4 tablespoons of butter on low heat. When the butter has completely melted, add the 8 sage leaves, allowing for the butter to turn a darkish brown color. Add the gnudi to the skillet, coating the gnudi in the sage brown butter. Place each of the gnudi on a plate and pour the remaining butter, and now crispy pieces of sage on top. Garnish the dish with additional parmesan and enjoy!!
First step on my long road to becoming an Italian culinary master!!
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Adapted from Scott Conant
1 pound cow’s milk ricotta, drained in a strainer for at least 2 hours
1/4 cup spinach, sauteed and finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
2 egg yolks
Olive oil, for coating
Sage Brown Butter:
4 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
- Drain the ricotta for at least two hours
- Sautee and drain the spinach
- Mix the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs together
- Make 2 small balls and test cook by placing them in boiling water until they float, then shock in iced water. (for about 3-4 minutes)
- If they are too soft and don’t hold together, add more flour or breadcrumbs and test again
- Portion all of the gnudi and roll into balls
- Cook in boiling water until they float, about 2 minutes, and shock in iced water
- Coat in olive oil and reserve until ready to serve
- Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a sautee pan until butter melts
- Add sage leaves, cooking until the butter turns a dark brown color
- Add the gnudi coating in the brown butter sauce
- Plate and serve!