Gnudi, pronounced “Nudee”, is a ricotta-based dumpling, a sort of ravioli in the buff. Hence, gnudi – it means naked! I clothed these fat little bastards in a sage butter sauce and at the last second added a healthy spoonful of garlicky tomato bruschetta topping that my mother-in-law made for Christmas Eve. Just what the doctor ordered. Did you know that garlic is basically medicine? A little tip from me to you. I tested a few theories/methods/recipes for making these light and lovelies and landed upon this, a stripped-down version. Because this is peasant food, lunch you cook while a wind and snow storm rages against the window panes and the baby on your hip keeps trying to grab the flour. You may even have everything you need to make these in your kitchen right now. I could have done the ricotta from scratch, an easy thing in itself, really, which would have made these even fluffier and more cherubim-like. But we had a container of store-bought leftover from last week’s experiment in grilled cheese and I wanted to use it up.
That’s the thing for me, more and more lately. I don’t mean to take shortcuts, but I want to figure out how to make things that are tasty/fun/elegant with minimal effort. That sounds like I’m being lazy or half-fast. But I am so much busier than I was when we started this project two plus years ago. Then, life was awesome because we had nothing but time and enthusiasm and a renewed wonder at the abundance of America. Now, life is awesome because we have Violet and she makes us laugh every day. And we are a cozy family of three with everything we need. Except time. And nine hours of sleep nightly. And Frye boots. We’re Everyman. Working parents, harried Americans, stressed out citizens wishing the politicians would all push each other off the fiscal cliff. I don’t want to rely on fast or processed food; it seems more important than ever to eat real food from whole ingredients, minimally messed around with.
Which brings me to a few practical matters. Don’t overmix. Or add a lot of excess flour. You want these as light as a whisper. When forming the dumplings shake off most of the flour. Taste the dough (do mind the raw eggs) to make sure that it is seasoned properly. And in the spirit of keeping life simple, buy a container of marinated tomatoes from the prepared food section of the supermarket. Or keep the gnudi plain, quickly sauteed in herbs and butter. Add a squirt of tomato paste or a dollop of cooked squash to the butter in the pan. Serve with lemony, garlicky spinach and a glass of crisp Falanghina.
Gnudi in Sage Butter with Fresh Tomatoes
Adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup Parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for dusting
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of nutmeg
Get a pot of salted water boiling over high heat. In a large mixing bowl, gently combine all ingredients. Add the cup of flour to a second, smaller bowl. Use your hands to form small, slightly flattened oblongs and keep them on a board until all are prepared. (Yield was about sixty.) Dust in flour. Drop the gnudi into the pot of boiling water and cook, approximately four minutes. They will float to the top when done. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a saute pan with melted butter and ripped up sage leaves bubbling over medium-low. Cook for a minute or two. Plate and serve immediately.