This is a totally delicious recipe, Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi, and is from Diana Henry’s new book, How To Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places.
Tender little dumplings – gnudi is Tuscan dialect for ‘naked’ (and Michelangelo’s paintings of nude figures in the Sistine Chapel were referred to as ignudi). They take a bit of time to make, but the end product is divine, melt-in-the-mouth gorgeousness. They’re best served with just butter and grated Parmesan.
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Ingredients: Serves 6 as a starter but 4 as a main course
250g ricotta, preferably fresh
470g spinach, coarse stalks removed
30g unsalted butter, plus 50g to serve
¼ small onion, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
100g Parmesan, finely grated, plus more to serve
freshly grated nutmeg
30g plain flour, plus more to dust
How to Prepare:
Put the ricotta in a sieve lined with muslin or a brand-new J-cloth and leave for a couple of hours to let the excess moisture drain away.
Wash the spinach and put it in a large pan with the water that’s left clinging to the leaves. Cover and set over a medium heat to wilt for 5-6 minutes, turning the leaves halfway through. Tip into a colander and leave to cool, then squeeze out every bit of moisture either with your fists or by putting the spinach – in batches – between two dinner plates and pressing them together. Chop the spinach finely.
Melt 30g of butter and gently sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the spinach and stir it round; more moisture should evaporate in the heat of the pan. Scrape the spinach into a bowl and allow to cool, then mix in the ricotta, egg yolks, Parmesan, nutmeg, flour and seasoning. Taste a bit of the raw mixture to test the seasoning.
Sprinkle a dusting of flour on to a large baking tray. Using wet hands (these work better than floured hands), roll the mixture into nuggets just smaller than a walnut, then roll each gently in the flour to coat lightly. Put on a plate, cover with cling film and refrigerate for one hour, or up to one day, to firm them up (the chilling here is vital).
Put a really big saucepan of lightly salted water on to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Melt the 50g butter in a large frying pan or sauté pan, then take it off the heat. Cook the gnudi in batches by dropping them into the water. After a couple of minutes they should have bobbed to the surface, so lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the butter. Shake around a little and cover the pan. When all the gnudi are cooked, gently heat them through in the butter.
Serve in warmed dishes, sprinkling with a little more Parmesan and grinding on some black pepper.
To purchase Diana Henry’s book from Amazon click HERE.