If you adore homemade pasta, but don’t love the elbow grease you have to put into it, then this Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter is the perfect compromise. Soft, melt-in-your-mouth pillows of ricotta dough are paired with nutty brown butter for the perfect fall comfort meal.
When people ask me what my favorite food to cook is, I always waver for a second, sure I could never choose just one, but then it comes to me – homemade pasta, without a doubt. Since I got my first hand-cranked pasta machine at a super young age, I’ve been churning out homemade ravioli, bucatini and spaghetti on the regular. And while I find it mostly lethargic to do so, sometimes, I want to make something reminiscent of pasta without feeling like I’ve lifted weights afterwards.
Enter: homemade gnocchi and gnudi.
Technically I’d classify these as dumplings, but they encompass everything I adore about pasta – comforting, full of carbs and completely addictive.
These days, gnocchi is a dish that’s pretty common and something most people would recognize, but gnudi is still a mystery to a large handful of people out there. If you’re in the latter camp, let me fill you in a little bit.
While gnocchi is made with mashed potatoes, gnudi is made with ricotta cheese making for a lighter, softer bite that to me, is a bit more appealing. Most classic versions use semolina flour, which has more texture than all-purpose flour, but here, I used a combination of the two – all-purpose in the dough and then semolina to coat the outside of the dough before dunking in a vat of boiling water.
The process honestly couldn’t be simpler. Mix drained ricotta with eggs, shredded parmesan cheese, chopped spinach and plenty of seasoning. Fold your flour in, and then use a cookie scoop to form the dough into balls. Form there, each ball gets coated in semolina flour, then popped into the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill.
Once the dough has chilled for a bit, it goes into a pot of boiling water for about four minutes, and then straight into some brown butter. To make a more sauce-like consistency, I like to spoon plenty of starchy cooking liquid over the gnudi and brown butter and then finish it off with a liberal amount of parmesan cheese.
Now, I read quite a few recipes for gnudi and poured through dozens of reviews and the one consistency I found was the majority of people whose gnudi didn’t come out, used an inferior ricotta. It’s so hard to find a good-quality ricotta without spending a fortune at a gourmet cheese shop, so I highly recommend making your own. I wrote this recipe with that in mind, and like I’ve mentioned so many times before, it’s so easy and 100% worth the extra effort. (Which is basically no effort at all).
Serve with a giant green salad, good wine, and enjoy!
More gnudi and gnocchi recipes:
Swiss Chard & Spinach Gnudi in Garlicky Tomato Sauce: Pinch and Swirl
Baked Spinach Gnudi with Béchamel: Carolina Girl Cooks
Creamy Mushroom Baked Gnocchi: You Totally Got This
Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped baby spinach
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 + 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
Line a sieve with two layers of paper towels. Add milk and heavy cream to a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add lemon juice and use a wooden spoon to continuously stir the mixture until it curdles, it should take about two minutes. Pour mixture into paper towel-lined sieve. Let drain for at least 30 minutes.
Add spinach to a small dry skillet, turn the heat on medium and heat until spinach begins to wilt, about 30 seconds to one minute. Cool completely.
Add ricotta, spinach, egg, egg yolk, salt, cheese and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Use a spatula to combine everything. Sprinkle flour on top and gently fold flour in. DO NOT OVER MIX!
Pour semolina flour on to a small, rimmed baking sheet or shallow bowl. Use a small cookie scoop to form gnudi into balls and then transfer to semolina. Gently coat the entire ball in flour.
Once all gundi are formed, place in fridge to chill while water comes to a boil. Add water to a large pot and bring to a rapid boil.
Working in batches, add gundi to boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan, I did it in three batches. Once each batch is done, use a slotted spoon to gently scoop each one out. Transfer to a large plate or platter while the rest finish cooking, and you make the sauce.
To make the sauce. Add butter to a large skillet. Heat over medium-high until it melts and starts to brown around the edges. Swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep brown and smells nutty. Turn the heat off and let cool slightly.
Once all the gnudi are cooked, put the pan with the butter back on the stove and add 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking liquid to the butter. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to form sauce. Season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and add the gnudi to the pan. Spoon the sauce on top.
Transfer to servings dishes and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.