Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Sage Butter


These Italian dumplings are essentially ravioli without the pasta covering. For best results, use fresh ricotta cheese, which can be found in Italian markets or specialty stores. Semolina is best for coating the baking sheet; you can substitute flour, but be careful that the gnudi are not absorbing too much of it.


  • 1 pound fresh spinach, large stems removed, washed well

  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), preferably fresh, drained for 30 minutes in a fine sieve

  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper

  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • Semolina, for dusting

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

  • 8 to 10 leaves coarsely chopped fresh sage, plus about 8 whole leaves


  1. Fit a large pot with a steamer insert. Add enough water to come about 3 inches below bottom of insert, and bring to a simmer. Add spinach, cover, and steam until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Press to remove liquid. Roll spinach in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth, and squeeze to remove any remaining liquid. Transfer to a food processor, and puree until smooth (you should have 1 scant cup).

  2. Stir together spinach puree, cheeses, salt, pepper, egg yolks, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons flour in a bowl.

  3. Mound remaining 1/2 cup flour on a cutting board. Using floured hands, gently shape 1 tablespoon spinach mixture into a small log. Drop it into the flour, and quickly roll to coat lightly. Transfer to a baking sheet that's lightly dusted with semolina. Repeat. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour or until ready to cook (up to overnight).

  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half the gnudi, and stir gently to prevent them from sticking together. Cook until gnudi rise to, and remain on, surface, about 7 minutes. Repeat with remaining gnudi.

  5. Meanwhile, warm 4 plates. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat until dark golden brown. Stir in chopped sage and the sage leaves. Add a little gnudi cooking water to the sauce to loosen.

  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove gnudi, shaking off excess water, and transfer to plates. Drizzle with sage butter and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

    David M. Russell
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