Ricotta Gnudi

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At the risk of sounding like an old grump, remember when you only ever encountered a handful of pasta shapes on a restaurant menu—ravioli, spaghetti, penne? Just when we’d all mastered those we were presented with agnolotti, creste, and gigli. I like to joke that when I don’t know a word on a menu, it is usually a pasta shape(I’m hilarious!). Gnudi isn’t a pasta, but it is a name that makes me think of nudie and giggle.

This concludes my Italian lesson for the day.

But seriously, I like that we’re getting more invested in the foods of other cultures and I am happy I now have a better vocabulary when it comes to food. I am even happier to have this recipe in my life. Gnudi are small ricotta dumplings. These gnudi are light (cloud-like!) and creamy (ricotta-y!) and so good (seriously!) that I encourage you all to make them right away. This is the sort of food you miss when it is gone. Come back, gnudi, come back.

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Please, please, please do not make this with anything other than whole milk ricotta. I would go so far as to say you should only make this with high-quality fresh ricotta, but I will settle on NO low or reduced fat ricotta. That stuff is gross, grainy, and has none of the qualities that make ricotta wonderful. Avoid! It takes a little practice to form these into this quenelle shape, but you could also just use an ice cream scoop to form them into balls. Form follows function, right? It will seem impossible to get the the gnudi from the tray into the water. It isn’t. Just pick them up one at a time with a rubber spatula and slip them into the water. The recipe says this serves 6 people—maybe as an appetizer? We got 4 servings out of the recipe. Finally, leftovers were great! Refrigerate the gnudi and sauce separately and then heat them together in a skillet. I was surprised by how delicious they were the next day.

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Ricotta Gnudi (recipe by Sara Jenkins/Bon Appetit)

  • 16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus more
  • 3 cups Quick Pomodoro Sauce (see below)

Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).

Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).

Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).

Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan.

Pomodoro Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt

Pulse tomatoes with juices in a blender to form a coarse purée. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and sugar and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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54 comments to “Ricotta Gnudi”

  1. long live full fat ricotta! once, in a pinch, when trader joe’s was out of the real stuff, I got a container of low fat thinking, “how bad can it be?” (I mean, low fat, even fat-free greek yogurt can be great, right?) OMG. it was the most disgusting, grainy, watery, SWEET-TASTING abomination that has ever crossed my lips. I dumped the whole thing into the garbage pronto. better no ricotta than faux ricotta–that’s what I say.

  2. Totally agreed, Jenny. Also, sometimes it is grey. Actually grey.

  3. These look amazing! I’m obsessed with Ricotta, Ihave a feeling the obsession will continue with these little treasures. I’m so excited to make these.
    By the way I completely agree with your comment about using whole milk high quality ricotta, you have to of it just tastes gross.
    Thanks for the awesome recipe!
    xo Quinn

  4. What brand of tomatoes do you prefer? I like Furmano’s, which is a local brand. I’ve never heard of creste or gigli, but I can readily buy fresh high-quality ricotta at a local Italian market and I need to try this dish which I overlooked in Bon Appetit. Last week I had a little leftover roasted cauliflower and made this http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/health/sicilian-pasta-with-cauliflower.html?_r=0 After I made & enjoyed it, I found it in several of my Southern Italian cookbooks. :-)

  5. Hi Louise- I don’t have any canned tomato loyalty. I often buy Muir Glen, which I think taste pretty good. Sometimes I stock up on cans of Italian imports from a local market. That cauliflower pasta sounds so good!

  6. Yum!! This sounds awesome!

  7. what are the green ribbons garnishing the top?

  8. YUM! I had some gnudi with brown butter and sage recently. So delicious. I’ve got some homemade ricotta sitting in my fridge destined for the recipe :)

  9. Hi Olivia- I garnished with some basil, optional but delicious.

  10. I can’t bear eating low-fat ricotta. It’s gross. And with a dish as mouthwatering as this, I think only real, full-fat ricotta will do it justice. Thanks for sharing this lovely gnudi recipe.

  11. Just discovered your blog and I love it! Great recipes and pictures:-) I’m really looking foreward to follow your blog.

    Linda (from Norway)

  12. amazing!! i love gnudi but have never thought to make them. and i giggle at the word too :-)

  13. We played around with making ravioli recently, and it’s given us a newfound love for ricotta. My bf will flip when I show him this gnudi recipe!

  14. Yes. Thank you for the Italian lesson, and a post that made me smile. Also this recipe, which looks fantastic!!

  15. Yay for gnudi! I had some with sausage and spinach one chilly night in Florence and they were so good. Made me realize once again that the best food is uncomplicated and comforting.

  16. Thank you! This looks like a delicious & easy recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Love this post! I lol-ed!

  18. Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook”, 1973, has a similar recipe which includes spinach, and it’s called “Gnocchi verdi”. Maybe “gnudi” is a modern name — you know, like they changed certain plants Latin names after doing DNA studies. :-)

  19. Love the gnudi with full fat ricotta! And I’ll put in a plug for homemade ricotta — it’s REALLY easy to do and is so delicious it brings you to your knees! SmittenKitchen has a great recipe for it — no “exotic” equipment needed and it’s quick to do. As for tomatoes, any that say “san marzano” are really amazing and worth the money.
    Just found your blog — so glad I did!

  20. Hi Louise- I like having you around as the Lottie + Doof archivist. ; ) I love that book.
    LindaC- Making ricotta is satisfying, and if you live someplace where it is difficult to find the fresh stuff it is a great alternative. BUT- I would be careful with the “San Marzano” on the labels. Most tomatoes labeled San Marzano are not S.M. So, best to taste and find one you like regardless of labels. (more on the controversy here)

  21. This post was awesome, Tim! Seriously, it was truly funny to read (you are hilarious!) and the dish looks great–something I remember being intrigued by when I saw it in Bon Appetit but now something I will definitely plan to make.

  22. Goes in my to make list!!! Looks so good!

  23. uff these look good! I’m always down for new dumpling options. will be making!

  24. I have a dear friend who’s grandfather was an amazing Italian chef. She can literally spend hours discussing the naming (and mis-naming by American pasta companies) of pasta shapes. To me they are all pretty much described by comparing them to random objects (the tube-y ones or the bicycle wheel ones). That’s probably why my fiance hates going to the grocery store for me… hoping I can convince him to make me this recipe though. Looks delicious!

  25. Saw this recipe this morning and knew what to make for dinner! Unfortunately, this did not turn out well at all. Currently attempting to retrofit this into a lasagna (that we can give to someone we don’t like, lol).

  26. Thanks for the link to the controversy over the tomatoes. An interesting read for sure. This looks like a great recipe to try before the warmer weather is upon us.

  27. Love, love, love your site. Thanks for the vision and all the goodies.

  28. Holy moly, that looks delicious. (And the post definitely made me chuckle a few times.) No worries, there will be no low-fat anything over here.

  29. Oh man. That looks amazing. I love it when you do savory dishes on here! Did you ever hear or read that NPR story on the pasta architecture book? They go into a few funny names too, like strozzapreti, or priest stranglers. Plus there’s a gnudi recipe with lamb sauce. Worth a look!

  30. The photography of this recipe in Bon Appétit was so enticing! I made it soon after that issue arrived. The gnudi were delicate and delicious, but sometimes I want a bit more oomph, y’know? We debated rolling pancetta into them next time.

  31. When I was a waitress, staff meal was penne with tomato cream sauce..every..single..day. I vowed to never eat penne again. Must make gnudi, it’s a beauty (i’m fired).

  32. looks so delicious. i wish i was able to eat ricotta cheese, or that there was some sort of substitute for it. the pomodoro sauce looks equally as amazing.

  33. Any tips for making the gnudi more…solid? I tried this when the magazine came out, and mine fell apart in the boiling water. They wound up having the consistency of grits. My parents claimed to enjoy it, but it was too soupy for me to eat so I dumped the sauce on some spaghetti noodles!

  34. Hey Melissa- I altered the instructions from the BA version to include a range in the amount of flour used. Ricotta varies so much in terms of water content that the original recipe didn’t make sense to me. The store-bought stuff in the tubs is sometimes so wet. The ricotta I used was super thick and creamy and I still used more like 3/4 cup of flour (maybe more?). The formed gnudi need to feel like dumplings, not like piles of ricotta. It is worth trying again, if you’re up for it. They’re really good.

  35. ummmm yes! i tried making gnudi last year. mine got a little tough but i definitely want to try again. this looks like the perfect place to restart. thanks for the recipe!

  36. I agree! Always go with whole milk ricotta. It makes a huge difference.

  37. Just, yum. That plate speaks to my heart.

  38. This seems really similar to a recipe for ricotta gnocci that I’ve seen Mark Bittman make – is there a difference between a gnudi and a ricotta gnocchi? Or is “ricotta gnocchi” not actually a thing, but just a name that someone came up with to describe what a gnudi is? I am not a huge fan of the Bittman recipe, I found them very heavy and kind of sticky.

    Perhaps I should just try them…

  39. FYI – you can drain excess moisture from the whole-milk ricotta (in a cheese cloth lined strainer, set in a bowl and covered)…in your fridge overnight. I confess my mom and grandmas never made this (we’re Sicilian on both sides), and I’ve always been temped to make gnudi – must do it soon…this looks like a nice recipe.

  40. my mouth is salivating. looks like this might be dinner soon.

  41. These look totally delicious, I am definitely going to be giving them ago!

  42. Okay, so I made these and they are absolutely wonderful. The ricotta I had had been frozen and so the gnudis did not shape up well, but who cares when you are feeding yourself and your spouse. If its not pretty, it still can taste great and these did. The recipe is going in my collection and one to make again and again. Thanks and Thanks! The Pomodoro sauce was used the next night for our pizza. Great tasting and I used the already crushed Furmanos and skipped the blender step. Delicious!

  43. I’m such a ricotta freak I have to stop myself- though I won’t with these pretty babies.

    On the “fresh is best” note, ricotta is so easy to make that when I find myself with more milk in my fridge than I might use that week- I turn it into ricotta. Only takes a minute and there you have it.

  44. I have to try this!
    My next trip to the supermarket will be brought forward so that I can get some ricotta.
    Thanks for the warning about not trying to substitute with low fat.
    Although I generally follow recipes to the letter because i assume there is a reason that certain ingredients are there in the quantities mentioned.
    Will be back and have bookmarked the site.
    Thanks, Lawrence

  45. To add to the confusion (or fun?), I’m pretty sure that gnudi are the same thing as malfatti (which means ‘poorly made’ in Italian, since they’re kind of blobby). I guess you could call them malfatti if you’re having someone over for dinner who might be offended by nudity!

  46. love, love this sauce. haven’t tried the whole recipe yet. but i woulda never thought that one could use 1/2 a cup of oil in a pasta sauce and it work out. i used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, ps. yummy.

  47. I first saw a gnudi(with spinach)recipe a few years ago from Giada, but never got around to making them. Then I saw your posting and gorgeous photos and knew it was time. I’m glad I waited. I didn’t know if they would fall apart, sink like bricks, be dry and crumbly …but they were absolutely sublime. Light as clouds. Light as pillows. Not too rich. Just a perfectly delicious simple real food dish. If there’s one thing that I think made the difference, it was luckily stumbling upon handmade/homemade whole milk ricotta in Whole Foods. I’m certain this is what put this recipe over the top for me. They were easy to assemble, didn’t need excessive flour, and they floated right to the top. Will definitely make again and again.

  48. I just made two batches of these — one with Dragone brand whole milk ricotta (about $3 for 32 oz) and one with a fancy, locally made tub of whole milk ricotta ($8 for 16 oz). While the locally made cheese had more flavor right out of the tub and had a more pleasant texture, the gnudi made out of the Dragone actually were easier to work with and needed less flour. Both turned out delicious, and I couldn’t really tell a difference in taste after they were covered in sauce, basil, and more parmesan. Mine were very homely looking but quite delicious!

  49. Stephanie says:

    April 9th, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Anyone know if the gnudi can be frozen after shaping, before cooking? Made these once already w/ Sorrento ricotta and they were amazing! Just got some divine fresh ricotta, hence the freezing question. One batch is dinner tonight, but there’s enough for more than one…

  50. Is it too late to comment? Ottolenghi has a wonderful recipe that adds pine nuts and basil and then wrap a thin slice of grilled aubergine around it and eat it with lemony sage butter. Delicious!

  51. Made these last night, with rice flour which made them gluten free and still delicious.
    Today I am eating them for breakfast, and I think the night in the fridge actually improved them! Pomodoro sauce, basil, cheese…

  52. Don’t try making this while you’re pregnant. I just dumped 1/4 CUP of sugar into the sauce. *facepalm*

  53. just discovered this recipe and im looking forward to trying it out! also i was thinking of maybe sautéing the gnudi a bit after boiling them. thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

  54. Charmaine Izzo-Inge says:

    March 5th, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Can gnudi be frozen before cooking?

What do you think?