Last week I made ricotta for the first time, and nearly fell over when I realised how simple it is! Since then I’ve been putting my homemade cheese through its paces. Eating it on pizza with caramelised onions, swirling into tomato based pasta, and making gnudi...
I first tasted gnudi in November 2011 at the Alesbury in Melbourne. Quite frankly I was taken aback. The dish brought an immediate tear to my eye, as I mentioned in a post around this time. And it wasn’t just me, Kate, a friend who was sharing the dish also shed a tear out of pure delight for the taste of this light, fluffy pillow of ricotta, enriched with parmesan and lemon and served with olive oil, ground black pepper and green beans.
I have to confess, at the time, although I wanted to run into the kitchen and kiss the chef, I hadn’t even considered that he or she also probably made the ricotta. Given making ricotta takes only a few minutes, it seems obvious now.
Before embarking on making gnudi with my own ricotta, I did a little research. Gnudi means naked in Italian and gnudi are described by some as ravioli filling without the pasta. If you avoid carbs (I don’t) this is good news. They look like gnocchi in shape and form. But the truth is gnudi are much more than that ricotta filling or gnocchi. Done well they are cloudlike, but also rich and perfectly contained in a crisp outer shell that oozes ricotta when one bites into it.
Gnudi were made quite famous in 2008 by the Spotted Pig in New York City, subsequently doing the round of the food blogs. It took me until 2011 to taste them and 2012 to actually make them, but the wait was worth it. Gnudi make a delightful dish, that’s sophistication belies its simplicity. They can also be made ahead, and in fact are better made three days ahead, allowing the outer “shell” to sure in the refrigerator, and allowing them to be boiled without risk of crumbling.
I followed a basic recipe by Z Tasty Lifestyle, making a few tweaks as I went. Here’s the recipe:
500gms fresh ricotta (http://www.segur-le-chateau.blogspot.com/2012/02/homemade-ricotta-cheese-recipe.html)
1/2 cup finely grated parmegiano-reggiano
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups semolina flour
4 tablespoons butter
Small bunch of sage
Step One: Mix the ricotta, parmigiano and lemon juice in a bowl and season
Step Two: Line a plate with half of the semolina.
Step Three: Using two teaspoons spoon out the ricotta and shape into small gnocchi shaped dumplings. Drop into the semolina flour. Once you’ve formed all of the gnudi, that is used all of the ricotta, cover the gnudi with the remaining semolina. Refrigerate for between 1 and 3 days, the longer the better.
Step Four: Heat a pan and brown the butter. While the butter is browning, fry off the sage leaves in it and drain them on a paper towel.
Step Five: Boil a small pot of salted water and gently drop in the gnudi. They’ll sink at first, but will float after a few minutes, indicating they are cooked. Gently remove the gnudi, drain them and place them on a plate. Top with the fried sage and finish with the browned butter.
Et voila, enjoy!