Gnudi is basically ravioli without its knickers on. It means ‘nude’ in Italian, and refers to the ravioli filling without the pasta — you could also think of it as ricotta gnocchi.
Spinach gnudi and buttery tomato sauce had always been favourites of mine, but I only thought to combine them a few months ago. I wish it hadn’t taken me that long, because this is one sexy dish: silky, cloud-like ricotta pillows flecked with spinach, smothered in a velvety sauce.
The butter gives a subtle richness, and I find cooking the onion halves in the sauce and then removing them adds a savoury sweetness without imparting a detectable onion flavour (I eat the cooked onions on their own with a little salt, but if you’re normal you should probably just throw them in the bin, or your compost heap).
I enjoy this dish with just a few slices of crusty bread on the side, but you can serve it as a starter on its own, or over some cooked penne as a main.
Spinach gnudi with tomato-butter sauce
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter
For the tomato-butter sauce:
1 small onion, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp olive oil
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
For the gnudi:
1 cup flour
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1. In a small saucepan, gently fry the onion halves and garlic in the olive oil until the garlic is fragrant (don’t let it brown).
2. Add the tomatoes and simmer, covered, for about an hour.
3. In the mean time, make the gnudi: In a saucepan, fry the spinach until just-wilted and allow to cool. Squeeze out any excess moisture and chop finely.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, spinach, egg, ricotta and Parmesan. Mix vigorously until well combined.
5. Dollop a spoonful of the mixture onto a floured surface and, using your (also floured) hands, roll into a cylindrical shape about an inch in diameter. Cut into 2cm or 3cm pieces and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
6. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and plop in about a third of the gnudi (you don’t want them to be too crowded or they may stick together – also, too may will bring down the temperature of the water). Let them cook for an extra minute after they’ve risen to the surface (about 3-4 minutes in total), then remove with a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent them sticking together. Repeat with the remaining gnudi.
7. While the last batch of gnudi is cooking, remove the onions from the tomato sauce and add the butter, stirring until it is incorporated.
8. Divide the gnudi between bowls and spoon over the tomato-butter sauce. Top generously with freshly grated Parmesan and serve.