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Ricotta Gnudi

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.

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.

Ricotta Gnudi (recipe by Sara Jenkins/Bon Appetit [1])

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

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.