Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi Recipe from Tuscany

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Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi are one of the most typical dishes of Tuscany: it is a classic comfort food prepared with simple ingredients because in fact the gnudi are a poor dish. Gnudi, what a funny name, isn’t it?

What are gnudi? If we want to summarise the description, we could simply say that the Tuscan gnudi are the evolution of the ravioli filling: in fact, gnudi are the stuffing ricotta and spinach of ravioli which is given a round shape before being boiled and seasoned. Gnudo, in Tuscan, means “naked”: appropriate name since, in fact, it’s the filling of ravioli without its outer coating, the raviolo.

It’s easy to compare them to gnocchi, but it is only the shape that can be the same since flour is present in the dumplings while the gnudi only have a bit of flour on the outside.

Like all traditional recipes, every family and every member of the same family has its gnudi recipe but everyone agrees that this is one of the Tuscan recipes to try, because of its simplicity and its goodness.

One of the problems with the gnudi is that if the spinach is not finely chopped, it may be difficult to get a perfect ball because the ingredients may not mix well; I recommend chopping the spinach as small as possible, if necessary even using a food processor.

For the rest, the same advice is always valid when it comes to Italian food: only use top quality ingredients, first of all ricotta cheese, to get a truly perfect result. Remember that gnudi are good because you can taste all the ingredients and that means, since the sauce is basic, the ingredients must stand out as much as possible.

As for the condiment, the tradition says that the gnudi should be served with a classic butter + sage + parmesan cheese but you can actually season them at will (just as you do with gnocchi) for example with a light tomato sauce, with a ragù and so on.

Let’s go to the recipe to prepare some delicious TuscanSpinach and Ricotta Gnudi, at the end of which you will find some useful tips to make, taste and store them.

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 250 grams of spinach
  • 250 grams of ricotta cheese
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 50 grams of flour
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 50 grams of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch of black pepper


  1. Rinse the spinach and leave them in a pot with unsalted boiling water for 5 minutes;
  2. Drain the spinach and squeeze to remove excess water;
  3. Place them in a pan with oil and garlic clove and sauté;
  4. Remove the spinach from the pan and chop them using a knife or a food processor;
  5. Place the spinach in a bowl with the ricotta (without preserving liquid). Work the two ingredients with the Parmesan cheese to make them blend, adding salt and pepper when needed;
  6. Add the egg to the mixture, stirring until the ingredients are completely blended;
  7. Once the dough is ready, make balls as large as walnuts (they can be more or less round): in this phase, it is good to flour the hands continuously so that the dough does not remain stuck and that, above all, the gnudi does not go away. Cover the gnudi with flour and let them rest for at least 30 minutes;
  8. Bring salted water to a boil in a large, high pot; when boiling, toss the gnudi a little at a time and let them cook until they start to surface again. Drain them with a skimmer and dress them in the way you prefer.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Preparing, cooking and storing gnudi

  1. The gnudi are kept perfectly in the freezer: they must be frozen on a baking tray, spaced from each other, and then eventually put into bags. They can be used without being defrosted;
  2. The classic flour can be replaced with rice flour, so as to prepare a dish also suitable for celiac and gluten intolerant;
  3. Ricotta can be made from sheep (as in tradition) but also from cow or buffalo. As the ricotta varies, the flavor of the gnudi will change (and if the buffalo is used the consistency);
  4. In addition to spinach, cooked beets can be added to the dough;
  5. In case they will last, put them in the fridge and I suggest you heat your gnudi in the oven by adding Parmesan or in a pan with very little hot water to make them come out.

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Categories: Traditional Italian recipes
Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina
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