That’s right. You read it. Naked ravioli. Also called Gnudi. It is like ravioli, but it is not clad with pasta. And it is made with fresh ricotta cheese instead of potatoes. It is light, fluffy, plump, and very delicious. In some regions of Italy it is also known as Strozza-preti which is Italian for “Priest Choker”. The Italians do have a sense of humor for sure...
This dish first came to me when I was taking cooking classes in Florence years ago. In the mornings we would shop at the farmer's markets and plan our meals according to what was freshest in the market. One particular day, we decided to make a roasted pork loin and spinach gnudi was chosen as a side dish. I remember it being one of my favorite recipes and so fun to make. She made the ricotta Gnudi with spinach, but I opted out of the spinach for this recipe to keep it simple. You can drain and chop spinach and add it in if you like. Its pretty easy to do.
This recipe is very straightforward. There are only four ingredients in it...ricotta, egg, parmesan, and a little flour to bind it. It takes three minutes tops to mix and then you let it sit in the fridge for about 45 minutes. After that, you just roll the dough into small ovals and boil them for 6 minutes. How easy is that? It is also perfect for the kids to make with you. What kid doesn’t like to get their hands a little messy?
For the sauce, my favorite is the sage brown butter. It is a great sauce for any pasta and people go crazy over it when I do my dinner parties. It is a sauce that has to be prepared last minute, and all you have to do is melt butter and fry the sage in it. Can’t really mess that one up! There is another sauce on the recipe below and that is the sauce I made with the Gnudi in Italy so long ago. It is delicious, but very rich.
Serve these naked raviolis on their own or with a good meat dish like a roasted pork loin.
Have fun rolling the raviolis and let me know what you think!
Ricotta Gnudi (Naked Ravioli) with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Adapted from Michael Psilakis
1 Pound Homemade Ricotta Cheese*, Whole milk
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup of Parmesian or Pecorino, grated
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4 Cup of Flour for the mixture
1 Cup of Flour to coat the gnudi
Browned Butter Sauce:
6 Tablespoons Butter
20 Whole Sage leaves
Gorgonzola Sauce: Option instead of sage butter
4 Cups Heavy Cream
5 Ounces Crumbly Gorgonzola
3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
3/4 Bunch Parley, chopped
1. Mix the eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper together till combined. Fold in the ricotta. Fold in the flour. Cover and place the dough in the fridge for one hour.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water so it tastes like the ocean. Place a cup of flour in a bowl. Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a tablespoon. And gently coat them with flour in the bowl.
3. Poach the raviolis in the salted water for 6-8 minutes. When they are cooked, remove the raviolis with a slotted spoon and set aside till they are all ready to be sauced.
4. For the Browned Butter: Sauté the prosciutto till crispy in a small pan. Place the prosciutto on a paper towel to drain. Wipe out the pan and melt the butter in the same sauté pan till it turns a golden brown color. Add the sage leaves and fry them in the butter till they are crispy, 2-3 minutes. Ladle the butter over the raviolis. Top with the crispy parmesian.
5. For the Gorgonzola Sauce: Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the cream down till it is thick, like a sauce, 30-40 minutes. Use a whisk to stir in the Gorgonzola, parmesian, parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk for a few minutes and then check for seasoning. If the sauce separates give it a good whisk and it will come back together.
*The best ricotta to use is the artisan, fresh ricotta that you find in specialty stores, Shop Rite, and Whole Foods. The brand I buy is called Leoni.