Tuscan kale and ricotta gnudi in tomato sauce might become your next favorite Sunday meal. Light and tender dumplings placed in a lovely pool of rich flavorful tomato sauce. Gnudi, "nudi" in Italian, means "naked". Imagine a ravioli filling without the pasta enveloping them. Pure deliciousness.
Song of the day: Sunday Morning - Maroon 5
A traditional dish from the Tuscan kitchen to your own kitchen. Close your eyes and see rolling hills, rows of tall cypress trees, and a warm terracotta landscape, as you are making these.
Tuscan kale gnudi
Traditionally, gnudi are made with ricotta, or ricotta and spinach, and their usual condiment is a butter sauce. Instead of spinach, we used Tuscan kale, or lacinato kale, or cavolo nero in Italian. You could also use Swiss chard. Tuscan kale is an Italian variety with long dark green leaves and a mild, less bitter flavor. All types of kale have a tough center rib, that needs to be removed, leaving only the tender leaves. Wash and blanch the leaves, then mince them with a knife. We suggest not to use a food processor or they'll become pureed and release too much water.
Ingredients for the gnudi
Very few, as every Italian recipe from the Cucina povera:
- Tuscan kale
- Parmigiano, freshly grated
- salt, pepper, & nutmeg
The semolina flour used to roll them on, gives some structure to the gnudi.
- In a bowl, with a fork, mix ricotta, minced kale, grated Parmigiano, egg. Grate in the nutmeg, add salt, and pepper.
- Mix until smooth. If you see the mixture is too runny, let it firm up in the fridge, for about half hour to 1 hour.
- Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon to measure the size, then form the mixture into small balls. Coat with semolina flour, and place on a semolina floured baking sheet, apart from each other.
We suggest leaving the gnudi in the fridge, lightly covered with plastic or a towel, for at least half an hour. That gives the gnudi time to firm up and the semolina creates a nice outer surface preventing the gnudi to fall apart during cooking. Before putting them in boiling water, gently remove any excess flour.
A simple basil tomato sauce
While your gnudi are resting in the fridge, prepare a basic, simple, and tasty tomato sauce. We used a basil passata, adding garlic, evo oil, salt and pepper, and more basil. We cooked our sauce for about 15 minutes, cook longer only if your sauce is more runny. Passata is usually thicker than stewed tomatoes and requires less cooking time since it is pureed without the skin and seeds and also strained. Normally, we add some water to the jar, give it a good squish and pour it into the pot. This helps achieve the right consistency and we don't want to waste any of that goodness.
Cooking the gnudi
- Fill a tall pot two-thirds full with water, salt it generously, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Before adding the gnudi, reduce the boil to a light boil, place a few gnudi at a time on a stainless steel strainer or slotted spoon and gently submerge them into the water. Repeat for all the gnudi.
- Once they are all in, shake the pot gently, do not stir, then wait until they come to the surface, about 3-5 minutes. Then, use the strainer or slotted spoon to gently take them out of the water.
- While the gnudi are cooking, place a ladle of tomato sauce at the bottom of a shallow bowl. Then, place 3 or 4 gnudi on top of the sauce.
- Grate Parmigiano on top and serve immediately.
The gnudi experience
Plating the gnudi in a pool of rich sauce really highlights the color and texture of this Italian dumpling. Amazingly enough, the colors resemble the Italian flag. Go figure! When you first cut into one, the filling reveals a bright green freshness with little morcels of that creamy ricotta. The flavor has the same brightness and paired with the sauce has the taste buds singing praise.
Bring a taste of Italy, better yet, Tuscany, to your next meal. Don't forget to let us know if you like them and if you happen to have a picture, we would love to see it!