Pillowy Ricotta Gnudi

updated Aug 27, 2022
Ricotta Gnudi

An easy recipe for Italian ricotta gnudi with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Serves6

Prep30 minutes

Cook6 minutes to 10 minutes

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Credit: Olive & Mango

Tender, creamy, and begging to be dressed in warm marinara and plenty of grated Parmesan, gnudi are sure to be an Italian meal you’ll add to your dinner playbook once you learn their magic.

At first glance, you might confuse the light, fluffy dumplings with potato gnocchi. But gnudi are their own delicious dish entirely, and one that’s well worth getting to know.

What Are Gnudi?

I first discovered gnudi when I was living in Florence as a student, and took a cooking class at the local culinary school. Gnudi very roughly translates to “naked” in Italian and is basically thought to be the naked filling of cheese ravioli — without the pasta that surrounds it.

Unlike gnocchi, which can be found in several regions of Italy, you’ll find gnudi primarily in Tuscany. Gnudi are generally a bit larger than gnocchi and often made with less flour and therefore require an even more delicate hand. They’re traditionally made plain, with just ricotta, or with ricotta and spinach.

Credit: Olive & Mango

How to Serve Gnudi

Gnudi are traditionally served in a brown butter and sage sauce, or a simple tomato sauce. Since they’re quite delicate, even after cooking, they’re prone to falling apart if you toss them directly with the sauce. Instead, transfer the dumplings straight from the boiling water to your serving dishes and spoon the warm sauce over them. The recipe here opts for a tomato sauce finish, but you can also try the gnudi with butter sauce.

3 Tips for Great Gnudi

The delicate nature of gnudi is exactly why they’re so light and pillowy, but it also means they require some attention to detail. These simple tips will help you achieve success:

  • Buy the best ricotta you can find. If the ricotta isn’t thick enough, you run the risk of them falling apart as they boil, so you’ll want to seek out the thickest whole-milk ricotta you can find. Italian markets are the best source for this kind of high-quality ricotta, but Galbani Double Cream ricotta, which I’ve found at my local Publix, is similar to the more expensive stuff I buy at my Italian market. I also like Trader Joe’s whole-milk ricotta.
  • Sprinkle the gnudi generously with flour. The key to creamy gnudi is to use as little flour as possible inside the dumplings. But don’t be shy when it comes to flouring the outside of the gnudi. Shower them in flour before they’re refrigerated, generously dust the baking sheet with flour, and coat the tops of the dumplings with more flour before boiling them. This forms a protective layer around each one, making it easier to drop them into the boiling water and ensure they keep their shape.
  • Don’t skimp on chill time. Chilling the gnudi in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before boiling helps them firm up, so don’t skip this step. You can use this time to bring a pot of water to a boil and warm up the sauce.

Ricotta Gnudi

An easy recipe for Italian ricotta gnudi with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

  • 2 (15 to 16-ounce) containers

    whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 4 cups)

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, divided

  • 3 cups

    marinara sauce, store-bought (from 1 24-ounce jar) or homemade

  • Fresh basil or parsley leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup) and place in a large bowl. Add 2 containers whole-milk ricotta cheese, 2 large eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and mix well. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and stir until just combined.

  2. Dust a rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Use a size 40 (1 1/2 tablespoons) cookie scoop or two spoons to scoop out golf ball-sized gnudi and gently drop them onto the prepared baking sheet. You should have between 35 and 38. Sprinkle the gnudi generously with the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes while you heat the water and warm the marinara sauce.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place 3 cups marinara sauce in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, coarsely chop a few basil or parsley leaves for garnish.

  4. Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and, using a flat or fish spatula, gently drop half of the gnudi, one or two at a time, into the pot of boiling water, trying your best not to scoop up too much excess flour in the process, though scooping up some is fine. Boil until the gnudi float and are firm to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes, using a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the cooked gnudi to individual serving bowls as they do. Repeat with remaining half of uncooked gnudi.

  5. Spoon warmed marinara sauce on top and serve immediately, garnished with additional grated Parmesan, and chopped fresh basil or parsley.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover cooked gnudi can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.