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03/24/2014

~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~

IMG_7543There was a period in my life when I taught cooking classes on a regular basis (which I'm just too busy to do nowadays).  It was a rarity if I chose the subject matter.  When a group of people or an organization wants to take a class, they usually know what it is they want to learn before they come a calling.  In every class, one of the things I enjoy the most are the questions that get asked.  Questions reveal two things:   What is spinning around in the heads of people interested in food, and, what food trends are on the horizon.  Questions are the pulse of food people.

IMG_7557What's the difference between gnocchi (NYOH-kee) & gnudi (NYOO-dee)?

I remember this question well because it resulted in my teaching a second class to the same group of gals a few weeks later, and, it required me to learn how to make gnudi.  It was back in 2008 or 2009, and, while I knew the answer, I had never tasted or made the latter.  That being said, recipes weren't hard to come by.  Even though they've been around for centuries, at that time, Gnudi was the trendy new word in the foodie dictionary, showing up on swanky restaurant menus and in cooking magazines.  If I recall correctly the recipe I originally tried came straight out of Bon Appetit, and, I was really surprised by how easy they were to make!  

A bit about gnocchi & gnudi:  Both are savory side- or main-dish dumplings, meaning:  shaped, even-sized pieces or balls of dough are simmered in liquid until they are cooked through. Depending on the recipe, they are sometimes sauteed just prior to saucing and serving. Gnocchi are nugget-sized dumplings made from mashed potatoes and flour.  

IMG_7455Gnudi are meatball-sized dumplings made from ricotta cheese and flour, but less flour than what is used to make gnocchi.

In both cases, fresh bread crumbs or semolina are sometime substituted for flour. Eggs and/or grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano or Asiago) are usually added to the dough, and, mashed squash (acorn or butternut) or steamed spinach is sometimes added for color and a bit of subtle, but noticeable, flavor.

"Gnocchi" means "lump" and they are heavier (in a pleasant, "substitute for pasta" way).  "Gnudi means "nude" and they are lighter (in an amusing "naked ravioli without the pasta" way).  

Enjoy that giggle.  Amuse your bouche:

IMG_7587Make a meatless meal that won't have anyone asking "where's the beef?"!

IMG_74012  cups whole-milk ricotta cheese, the best available, well-drained

1  10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, well-drained and squeezed "dry" of liquid

3/4  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1  extra-large egg, at room temperature

1  extra-large egg  yolk, at room temperature

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon black pepper

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

3/4  cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup additional flour for rolling gnudi in

3-4  cups marinara sauce, preferably homemade

additional finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for topping gnudi

red pepper flakes, for garnishing gnudi

IMG_7398~ Step 1.  Prep the ricotta and spinach as directed.  I place them each in a small, paper-towel lined colander and let them sit for 30 minutes to make sure they are free of excess moisture.  While they are draining, using a microplane grater, grate the cheese.

IMG_7416 IMG_7409~ Step 2.  In a large mixing bowl, using a large spoon, combine the ricotta, spinach and grated cheese. 

~ Step 3.  In a small bowl, using a fork, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, nutmeg, salt, pepper and optional cayenne pepper.  Whisk the egg mixture into the cheese mixture.

IMG_7433 IMG_7429~ Step 4. Stir in the flour and stir until just combined and the mixture forms a moist ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to sit for 20-30 minutes. This rest will allow the flour time to absorb the liquid.  Uncover and stir. If the mixture feels wet (it will be a bit sticky), add 1-2 additional tablespoons flour.  I add none.

IMG_7444 IMG_7439~ Step 5. Line a large baking pan with parchment and place 4 tablespoons of flour in a shallow bowl.  Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop form gnudi dough into balls...

IMG_7461... rolling each one in the flour before placing it on the baking pan.

IMG_7471~ Step 6.  In an 8-quart stockpot bring 5-quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt.  Adjust heat to a steady simmer.  

Working in batches of 8-12, one at a time drop each gnudi into the simmering water.  Set a timer and allow them to simmer for exactly 6 minutes.  Note:  They will float to the top after 1-2 minutes.  They need to be cooked for 6 minutes.

IMG_7494 IMG_7485~ Step 7. Using an Asian spider or a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnudi to a plate.

IMG_7518Continue to work in batches until all gnudi are cooked.  Go ahead, taste one. Serve on marinara sauce or topped with the sauce, additional grated cheese and red pepper flakes:

IMG_7582Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara:  Recipe yields 3 dozen gnudi.  Portion and serve as appetizers before the meal, a starter course to the meal, or, as the meal. 

Special Equipment List:  colander(s); paper towels; microplane grater; fork; large spoon; plastic wrap; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; 8-quart stockpot; Asian spider or large slotted spoon

IMG_7641 IMG_7620Cook's Note:  Gnudi can be simmered several hours ahead of serving.  To reheat: puddle marinara sauce in a shallow plate or casserole, add the gnudi and top generously with grated cheese and red pepper flakes.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the microwave until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly, 1-2 minutes. 

IMG_7498Extra Cook's Note:  Serve gnudi with the best marinara sauce you can get your hands on.  In my kitchen, that would be ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~.  You can find the recipe in Categories 8, 12 & 22~

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

Comments

(wink, wink) Have fun making them!!!

After reviewing the photos, I see that it is added after step 3.
Thanks!

Hi M. Zoppetti! It's added in ~ Step 4.

~ Step 4. Stir in the flour and stir until just combined and the mixture forms a moist ball. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to sit for 20-30 minutes. This rest will allow the flour time to absorb the liquid. Uncover and stir. If the mixture feels wet (it will be a bit sticky), add 1-2 additional tablespoons flour. I add none.

Hi, Melanie
When is the the 3/4 cup of flour added?

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