My relationship with gnocchi used to be based upon suspicion. I still expect leaden pellets in restaurants. Only Al di La's malfatti were perfect and still stand at the apex of gnocchi lightness. And then I learned about gnudi. Thank you, dear reader. More ricotta. Less lead.
I warned Vince NOT to expect lightness on my first - or even tenth - attempt. And yet: light these were, the first time, and in every subsequent iteration. Thanks to my friend Bevan Christie, yet again - his was the recipe. Instead of gorgonzola sauce, though, I chose butter and sage. It's a blue cheese thing. Makes me itch.
I have used fresh and frozen spinach for these gnudi - fresh is softer, less watery and less fibrous. Excess moisture in the spinach or ricotta is the enemy of good texture
Instead of making small pellets, I make larger ones, about an inch-and-a-half.
As each pops up I scoop it with a perforated ladle directly onto a warm serving plate.
...pour over the sauce over the top, sprinkle parmesan, and we eat.
Gnudi Verde - for Two Humans
8 oz/225 gr cooked spinach, squeezed dry (about 2lbs/1kg fresh)
1 cup ricotta (drained if not firm)
½ cup coarse dried bread crumbs
½ cup finely, freshly grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour for dusting and rolling
Cook spinach after washing, putting it in a pot with lid and no extra water. It will wilt and reduce radically in volume. When tender, run under cold water and squeeze as dry as possible. If possible, wring it out in a clean cloth, getting every drop of water out. Chop it.
Mix spinach, ricotta, breadcrumbs, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, thoroughly and then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Scoop into rough balls using two teaspoons. Rest the balls on a flour-dusted board, making them in batches of 8 or so. Roll softly between your palms or on the board into logs about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide. I dent each log gently along its length with a finger. Put each finished log onto a plate, also dusted lightly with flour. Once you have used all your mixture, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes or more.
In a large pot or pots, boil salted water and drop the gnocchi in one at a time till there are about twelve on the bottom of the pot. Keep the water simmering. When the gnudi rise to the surface remove (gently) at once to a warm plate and keep warm while the others cook.
Make the quick sauce while the gnudi are cooking.
Sage Butter Sauce
3 Tablespoons butter
Handful of sage leaves - say, 12 leaves
1 gentle squeeze of fresh lemon juice, less than a tablespoon
Salt and pepper
Melt butter, add sage, cook gently (you may allow it to turn barely brown), squeeze the lemon, add salt and pepper. Cook till the sage is crisp. Pour over plated gnocchi, sprinkle parmesan at once and eat at once.