Now that I know how to make fresh homemade ricotta, I’ve been searching for exciting ways to use it. I came across a recipe I had cut out of the Pacific Northwest Magazine in March for gnudi and thought I’d give it a try. I’d never heard of gnudi but read that it is “naked” ravioli or ravioli without the pasta. It is similar to gnocchi but the main ingredient is ricotta cheese, not potato. I couldn’t resist this recipe created by Scott Staples of Restaurant Zoe. No instant gratification here — it has to “cure” for several days to form an outer “shell”. Evidently, that is Scott’s secret to success for making gnudi that maintains it’s integrity. I made some quickly on Monday night and kept the vision of serving luscious little ricotta pillows swimming in sage butter by Thursday as my motivation.
I must give you fair warning — you may get some looks if asked what you are doing while making this. Just answer, “makin’ gnudi” and let the fun begin.
Put 7-8 ounces ricotta in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Mix with a wooden spoon until creamy yet firm. Add more cream if necessary.The mixture needs to be the right consistency to form a ball and hold together. The recipe says store-bought whole-milk ricotta will work if you can find some with visible curds and texture.
Put a layer of 2-3 cups semolina flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill from Oregon) on a sheet pan. Shake the pan to create a level surface. Use a teaspoon to scoop each ball of ricotta mixture and place on the sheet pan.
Continue until all of the ricotta mixture is used. Go back and gently roll each ball around to give it a light coating of semolina. Then roll each portion lightly in your hands to form a ball. Place each ball in a second container on a layer of 1-2 cups semolina flour. Don’t allow the gnudi balls to touch one another. This container should be one that can be sealed and placed in the fridge for several days.
Use the remaining semolina flour from the sheet pan and carefully pour it over the balls in the second container to cover them. (I had to add even more semolina and still didn’t completely cover them). Seal this container and store in the refrigerator for 2 days.
After 48 hours, remove the container from the fridge, remove the gnudi, discard the semolina and place the gnudi back in the container. Return this container, uncovered, to the fridge for 1 or 2 more days. When you are ready to cook your gnudi, shake off excess semolina flour and drop into boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes until soft and warm inside being careful not to overcook.
I served mine on a bed of steamed spinach from Tolt Gardens (firstname.lastname@example.org), topped with brown sage butter and a few shavings of romano cheese from Estrella Creamery. The recipe claims that this is four servings but truthfully, I could have eaten the entire batch myself. Not only are they light, they taste divine. I stopped myself because we all know that sharing gnudi is better than keeping it all for yourself.