Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Basil Ricotta Gnudi in lemon butter sauce

Loreto October 11, 2016

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Basil Ricotta Gnudi in lemon butter sauce, a dinner recipe that will have you feeling like you are fine dining in luxurious and delicate flavors, using basic Italian ingredients and a lot of soul, making this dish heavenly and delightful.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

Basil Ricotta Gnudi with lemon butter sauce, similar to a gnocchi, but half as light, and a melt in your mouth ricotta with hints of basil, all bathed in a zesty lemon butter sauce. This is heaven in a plate, inspired by one of my favorite Food TV stars, Jamie Oliver.



Gnudi was not something I was familiar with. I know I am Italian but it was never made in our home. Maybe it was a regional thing. You have to understand that my parents were old school when I was growing up. It was over time that they lost some of their heritage and regional cooking styles adapting to Canadian way of living, and the influx of cultures that they were exposed to. Gnocchi was something we had once in a while and I loved them. Those starchy smooth little Italian little dumplings as I would call them were so good with that forever stewed tomato sauce. Only one thing, extremely filling as potato and flour are the weight behind them. I found the  basil ricotta Gnudi to be easier on the stomach and so delectable to eat.

How did I become introduced to basil ricotta  Gnudi you ask? Well, as usual, probably the most TV programs I watch are food related, The Food network, Gusto, TLN. One of my favorite chefs is Jamie Oliver. His passion and dedication to educating people on healthy eating and good quality foods is something I admire. Well I was watching Jamie and he was in his garden kitchen and ranting about this discovery he had made, yes Gnudi. I watched mesmerized by his words and my mouth watering as he described the lightness and flavor of these little dumpling gems. Then after making them, and cooking them in the outdoors in this secret garden  ambiance, steam coming from the pot of boiling water. I watched as he handled the Gnudi so delicately shaking off any excess semolina flour and releasing them into the pot. On the side, a pan with melted butter and some wonderful zest of a fresh aromatic lemon. I was hooked and knew that we had to try making these and so our journey began and the result a wonderfully light, packed with vibrant flavors of basil, lemon zest and butter, Basil Ricotta Gnudi with lemon butter sauce.

The journey begins to heavenly Basil Ricotta Gnudi with lemon butter sauce.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

This is a pretty simple recipe. All you need are some good quality organic eggs, fresh basil, flour, semolina, parmigiano and ricotta. For utensils, a baking sheet, bowls, piping bag, and knife, plus a pair of good hands. Into a bowl go the ingredients and mixed until well incorporated. Then the mixture is spooned into a piping bag with about 2 centimeter hole. This is the part I love, piping that lovely silky and smooth dough onto a baking sheet filled with semolina. You will need a fair bit of this flour to coat the Gnudi and with help keep them intact. With a good sharp knife cut the long rolls of dough into nice bite size pieces, approximately 3 centimeters. Delicately toss them with the semolina, then cover with some parchment or wax paper and place in the fridge over night. Nicoletta and I made these together and I have to say I love working with her in our kitchen, it is an effortless venture for both of us and we feel fortunate and blessed  to work so well together.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

When you are ready to cook them, get a good amount of salted water into a pot and bring to a boil. I always taste the water to see if it is seasoned well. Place Gnudi into the water carefully and cook till the Gnudi come to the surface. This will only take a few minutes and you don’t want to over cook them they will fall apart in the water.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

While the Basil Ricotta Gnudi are cooking melt some butter in a saute pan and place in a few leaves of fresh basil. A nice zest of one lemon and off the heat it comes, just as the butter begins to turn a golden brown. In goes the Gnudi for a quick pan toss, ensuring the even distribution of the sauce to the gnudi.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

At this stage the Gnudi are plated and a good dusting of freshly grated pecorino, and we are set to eat these magnificent babies.

I love the texture of these Basil Ricotta Gnudi, so soft and delicate, they just melt apart in your mouth. The flavoring of the basil in with the moist ricotta and the nuttiness of the semolina is music to your taste buds. Add in the sweet and citrus flavor of the butter sauce and these Gnudi elevate into luxury and richness reminding us that life is oh so good!

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

I would highly recommend trying these. If you have never tasted them before you are in for a treat, and if you have tried them it will be a reminder of the finer things in life.

Enjoy with a nice chilled glass of your favorite white wine, and your are set for a fantastic dinner.

Buon Appetito!

Song of the day:  An 80’s classic “All Night Long” by Lionel Ritchie.

Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

Basil Ricotta Gnudi in lemon butter sauce

  • Prep Time: 8 hours 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 250 g fresh ricotta
  • 125 g parmigiano, grated
  • 2 large free-range eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 75 g plain flour, plus a little extra
  • Semolina flour, for dusting

Lemon butter sauce

  • 15 g butter
  • about 8 basil leaves
  • zest of 1 organic lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • grated pecorino (or parmigiano), to serve


  1. In a pan over a low heat, add a splash of water and the basil leaves and heat until wilted. Take it off the heat, leave to cool, then carefully squeeze out the excess water.
  2. Pureee the leaves in a blender with 75 g of the ricotta.
  3. Transfer it to a large bowl along with the remaining ricotta, the parmigiano and eggs, and whisk vigorously, until light and airy.
  4. With a large spoon, fold the flour into the ricotta mixture, adding a little more if it’s too sticky (it needs to be soft and moist).
  5. When Gnudi mixture is well incorporated and smooth, place in a piping bag with a 1 1/2 – 2 cm hole.
  6. Pour out semolina flour onto a large baking sheet.
  7. Pipe out dough into long strips, about 1.5 cm apart.
  8. Sprinkle the strips with another thick layer of semolina flour, then take a sharp knife and cut into bite size pieces about 2-3 cm in length.
  9. Coat well with semolina and cover gnudi in the semolina flour, leaving them on the baking sheet.
  10. Cover with parchment or wax paper and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  11. Take Gnudi out of fridge and let it to come up to room temperature.
  12. Place a large pot of salted water on boil.
  13. Once the water starts to boil take Gnudi and shake excess semolina off.
  14. Place Gnudi gently in boiling water and cook till they come to the surface.


  1. While Gnudi are cooking, place a saute pan on the stove top, add butter.
  2. When the butter begins to melt add in some fresh basil leaves.
  3. As the butter begins to turn a golden brown zest the lemon in and season well.
  4. Take off heat.
  5. Take gnudi out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon.
  6. Gently toss them in pan with lemon butter sauce.
  7. Plate Gnudi and sprinkle with some freshly grated pecorino or parmigiano reggiano.
  8. Enjoy!


Remember that the prep time includes the resting time in the fridge.

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Basil ricotta gnudi in butter sauce

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  • Avatar
    Reply Rosa October 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

    What a delightful recipe! I love how the gnudi are piped out and then cut into pieces. So much easier than rolling between two spoons (like I did not too long ago). Lemon really brightens up just about any dish. 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 12, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Hi Rosa
      Thank you for your comment. This is one of the perks of this job getting to read comments and replying back. Yes I remember making gnocchi with my mom and nona, it was a tedious and labor intensive work. These Gnudi were really a breeze to make, and I have to admit I love using the piping bag so concentrated to pipe out evenly. I agree with you on lemon. I love that fresh hit in both savory and sweet dishes. Another ingredient I use a lot of in our ethnic cooking is lemon grass and that packs such a punch of flavor.
      Have a wwonderful week.

      • Avatar
        Reply Rosa October 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        Hi Loreto!
        I haven’t tried lemon grass yet. Will have to pick some up at the grocery store the next time I see it. Thanks for the tip! The weekend is fast approaching, so I wish you both a wonderful and relaxing weekend!
        Tanti saluti

        • Loreto
          Reply Loreto October 13, 2016 at 2:15 pm

          Thank you Rosa, have a great weekend too from both Nicoletta and I.

  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa October 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Loreto, these ricotta gnudi truly look heavenly! This is one of those dishes that I’ve heard so much about but never got to try it…ever!!! Growing up it has always been the potato gnocchi at our house, can’t wait to make them and thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 13, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Hi Marisa, don’t you just love being Italian. All those wonderful memories, home made foods. I love gnocchi too but these Gnudi are way way lighter and they have that delicious delicate texture and taste. I would love to hear how they turn out for you. Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Reply Adina October 13, 2016 at 4:53 am

    My mouth is watering too! I am not much into making gnocchi, probably because I have never managed to make some really good ones, but these gnudi are another story. They look amazing and pretty easy to make, I will keep them in mind.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 13, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Thank you Adina, like they say if you fail get up and try and try again. I am not one to back down in on a challenge, although I know when I have done enough and my white flag goes flying. Having said this, Nicoletta and I really enjoyed making these gnudis and found them really simple. Thanks to Jamie Oliver and his simple approach to cooking. Thanks a bunch for the comment and have a wonderful rest of the week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) October 13, 2016 at 5:04 am

    These do, indeed look heavenly! Bookmarked – it’s such a great comfort food meal that is still light!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 13, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Hi Mardi, you are so right on the comfort food. These Gnudi filled me with warmth and comfort. Food is an amazing thing. I loved making these with Nicoletta and they were light. I do not like that feeling of heaviness in my stomach and hours of digestion. It is better to feel wonderful and truly enjoy food with out any aftermath. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      Have a great day!

  • Avatar
    Reply Bernice October 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Lovely recipe and photos!
    Now. I have some questions because sometimes the use of gnocchi for gnudi really bothers me, as does the use of the mis use of singular and plural form in Italian.
    I have seen so many restaurants use ‘ricotta gnocchi’ in place of ‘gnudi’ and this bothers me. a lot.
    AND even worse…when there is a single ‘gnudo’ (I have had one large one before, is it Sicilian?) but it is still called a ‘gnudi’. Admittedly, this does happen more often with Ravioli. If there is one on your plate, and they call it ravioli instead of ‘raviolo’ it is disappointing in two ways! Who want one raviolo? LOL

    Am I completely nuts here or what?

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 15, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Hi Bernice, thank you! I had to take over from Loreto, this is my domain and he gladly handed it over 😉 . The use of singular/plural for Italian words in North America bothers me a lot too 🙂 . Ok, gnudi is plural for gnudo, I have never seen just one served and it cannot be Sicilian because they are from Tuscany (more specific from Florence). They are called “naked ravioli”, but more often then not they are referred to as ricotta gnocchi for their shape and resemblance to gnocchi. As for gnocchi, their singular is gnocco, and as for ravioli, their singular is raviolo and yes, you can have just a big one (for ex. the so popular among chefs big raviolo with a soft egg inside). What bothers me a lot is the misuse of panino/panini. Everybody here uses the plural version even for a single one and then adds the s to an already plural term. No, you’re not completely nuts, and if you are I am too, which I am not, I am just proud of my heritage 😉

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