Monday, January 28, 2008

In the Gnudi

This month's issue of Martha Stewart Living has a whole section on dumplings from all over the world. I love dumplings! What's not to love. Anyway, I'd like to make them all. I started with the gnudi from Italy. Most google searches about gnudi turn up the same description...they are like ravioli filling without the pasta. Martha's gnudi are made with ricotta and spinach and parmesan cheese...this seems to be the most common way. Of all the dumpling recipes featured, this one seemed the most accessible for a weeknight dough to make, no wrapping to do...just little lumps of goodness. So I got to it. Here's the recipe...not verbatim, but nearly. I used the easier to find corn meal instead of thier recommended semolina for dusting. I also used part skim ricotta instead of fancy schmancy fresh whole ricotta.

Spinach Ricotta Gnudi

1 ½ lb. fresh spinach, large stems removed, washed well
2 large egg yolks lightly beaten
¾ cup ricotta cheese, drained for 30 min in a fine sieve
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons AP flour
½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
Coarse salt & fresh pepper
Corn meal, for dusting
4 Tablespoons Unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons Roughly chopped sage leaves, plus about 8 whole leaves

1. Steam spinach until bright green…about 3-5 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then use a kitchen towel or cheesecloth to squeeze out any remaining liquid. You should have one scant cup of spinach. Puree in a food processor.

2. Stir together spinach puree, egg yolks, cheeses, 2 Tblsp flour, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt and pepper.

3. Mound 1 cup flour on a cutting board. Using floured hands gently shape 1 Tablespoon of the spinach mixture into a small log. Drop it into the flour and roll quickly to lightly coat. Transfer to a baking sheet that’s lightly coated with corn meal.

4. Boil the gnudi a half batch at a time, stirring gently to keep them from sticking together. Cook until gnudi rise, and remain on the surface.

5. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and 1 ½ Tablespoon of gnudi cooking water, cook on low for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

The flavors of this were great, however half of my gnudi fell apart into mush! I don't know if I didn't cook them long enough or if it had something to do with the lower fat content of my rocotta or what. These are very delicate dumplings. The ones that survived made for a very nice dinner. I loved the bright green coor of them. Wouldn't they be pretty with my Beet Gnocchi?!?!

As for the mush...I couldn't let it go to waste! It still tasted good no matter what form it ended up. So I stirred in the rest of the sage butter and stuck it in the fridge for future use.

I intended to make ravioli. I broke out the ol' pasta machine, and had Jack give me a lesson in pasta-making. It's not hard, but it takes patience. It's sooo worth it, though. We made whole wheat pasta using this recipe. We did have to add some water to make it work, just as someone comments on allrecipes. Once we had it rolled out into sheets, we contemplated stuffing and shaping and cutting. Jack pulled out a round glass and used that as a cutter.

He made a little tortellini, and it looked so cute and was so easy that we decided to do those instead of ravioli. Tortellini have a much more satisfying chewyness than ravioli anyway. I keep saying tortellini, but upon further review, Jack thinks we ended up making Cappelletti, or "little hats." It's a slight difference between the two. Tortellini are more ring-like...said to be inspired by Venus' belly button. I can't find much about different stuffed pasta shapes on-line except this handy-dandy guide to pasta shapes.

Each "whateverini" had about a teaspoon of filling in it.

We spread some water along the rim of the circle, then folded it in half over the filling, pushing as much air out as possible.

Gather the tips in and pinch together. Voila! A delicious little hat!

Whatever we made, they were good. The smooshed gnudi made a perfect filling, and the fresh pasta? Well, that's always a pleasure. I made more sage butter to go on top of them, as I really liked the way it went with the filling flavors.


redneck muppet said...

pasta AND green goopey stuff? that's just heavenly.

Sarah C. said...

Great post and I like that you are innovative with your mound of mush. It looks like it turned out in your favor in the end!
Can I ask what kind of pasta marker you used or if you simply rolled that out by hand?

ironstef said...

It was heavenly! Goop!

We have a Marconi Atlas 150 pasta machine. It's pretty much a classic and I really should use it more. The results are much more even and thin than I could get rolling it out by hand.

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