Gnudi Recipe

Gnudi Recipe

Gnudi are soft, creamy Italian pillows of ricotta and Parmesan cheese—they are similar to gnocchi but are made with little or no flour. The word gnudi means “naked”—that makes sense because they are like cheese ravioli without the pasta covering. Gnudi is typically chilled for at least 24 hours, but this version uses a small amount of flour, making them slightly sturdier and less temperamental. It needs only about 1 hour in the fridge, and then it’s ready to cook.

The gnudi recipe contains a simple marinara sauce, but feel free to use store-bought or your favorite homemade pasta sauce or tomato sauce, or serve it with an herb and brown butter sauce.

Too much moisture can make the delicate gnudi fall apart, so use a good quality whole-milk ricotta and remove as much moisture as possible. The quickest way to remove the moisture is to press the ricotta between triple layers of paper towels.

“These gnudi are like pillows of ricotta, despite adding flour they are fluffy and tender. Make sure you buy full-fat ricotta, this gives the gnudi structure. Chilling the gnudi for an hour will prevent them from falling apart. If you’re unsure of the doneness keep an eye on them. Once they float, they’re typically done.” —Jacqueline Tris

Gnudi /Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Gnudi:

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup (1.75 ounces) grated parmesan cheese, more for garnish

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed

  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup semolina flour, divided

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (28-ounces) can crushed tomatoes

  • 6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 dash dried oregano

  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional

  • Basil leaves, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Gnudi ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Press the ricotta cheese between triple layers of paper towels or clean kitchen towels to extract excess moisture. If the paper towels become very wet, use fresh towels and press again.

    Ricotta cheese between paper towels on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. With a silicone spatula, fold in the all-purpose flour until just combined.

    Ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, kosher salt, and black pepper mixture in a bowl with a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of semolina flour in a rimmed baking sheet.

    Semolina flour in a rimmed baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Scoop out the gnudi with a 2- to 3-tablespoon cookie scoop or spoon. Using damp hands, shape them into 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch balls. Place the shaped gnudi in the semolina coated baking sheet.

    Ricotta balls on top of semolina flour in a rimmed baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. When the gnudi are all shaped, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup semolina, rolling them gently in the flour to coat. Cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

    Gnudi in a sheet pan with semolina flour

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.

    Water in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Meanwhile, prepare the marinara sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the crushed tomatoes, garlic, kosher salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

    Crushed tomatoes, garlic, kosher salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes in a pot on a burner, with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Remove from the heat, and keep warm.

    Marinara sauce cooking in a pot on a burner, with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the chilled gnudi to the boiling water. Lower the heat slightly, and boil, gently stirring, until the gnudi float to the top, 5 to 6 minutes.

    Gnudi cooking in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Spoon some of the marinara sauce into wide, shallow serving bowls. Divide the gnudi between the bowls. Drizzle with more of the marinara sauce. Top with freshly ground black pepper, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.

    Gnudi in a bowl, garnished with basil and cheese

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Parmesan cheese measurement can vary depending on how it is grated—2 ounces of good quality pre-grated store-bought Parmesan cheese—not the shelf-stable kind—is about 3/4 cup. However, fluffy, Microplane-grated fresh Parmesan is around 1 1/2 cups. Weigh if possible for the most accuracy.

What is the difference between gnocchi and gnudi?

Gnocchi is firmer and is made with starch, such as flour or potato, while gnudi are soft, creamy balls of ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, typically made with little or no flour, and may include a coating of semolina flour.

Why did my gnudi fall apart?

If your gnudi fell apart, the ricotta may have been too moist.

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