Summer in Florence, Italy conjures up memories of light meals involving quick summer preparations. And this past week with the heat temperatures hitting over 100 degrees Fahrenheit I was on the prowl to capture a taste of Italian summer.
Whenever I think of Italy, I flashback to my year spent in Florence with Zia Maria Rosa and Zio Andrea by my side. I’d be lying if I told you it doesn’t all seem like a wonderful dream. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. These precious moments have become a large part of who I am. At the time I didn’t share the passion I now have for cooking…baking yes, but cooking was limited to dinner parties.
Zia Maria Rosa and Zio Andrea eagerly took me under their wings and opened my eyes to countless wonderful places and meals. There wasn’t a meal that went by that I didn’t ask Zia Maria Rosa for her recipes. She made even simple dishes sing with flavor. Our weekly dinners and weekend shopping trips to the market for ingredients are coveted deep inside the cockles of my heart. Over the years they’ve shared in all the milestones of my life and are now two names that happily drip off of the lips of my children.
These past months of recovery have forced me to consider new ways to put a smile on my face. As I shed my former self, three months post injury, I thought a post with the word NUDE would not only put a childish smile on my face but would garner a great deal of attention in a foodie porn kind of way.
Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”) is a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and a scant bit of flour. The result is a pasta dumpling that some describe as “nude” ravioli, or filling without the pasta — that is to say, light, fluffy, and creamy. These creamy ricotta creations are actually deceptively light and shine with simple sauces and fresh ingredients– mushrooms, tomato and basil, butter and sage are all amazing with this summer treat.
Ricotta Kale and Spinach Gnudi
1 pound fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
1/2 cup spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup kale, finely chopped
1/4 cup Peccorino, freshly grated
6 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour, plus flour for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup salted butter
10 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup Peccorino, freshly grated
Place a large pot of salted water over medium high heat. Cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Using a food processor combine kale and spinach and finely chop. Set aside.
In a large bowl blend the ricotta and the egg together. Mix in the bread crumbs, cheese, flour, kale, spinach, salt and pepper. Knead lightly.
To test the consistency of the dough scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and form it into a ball. Lightly flouring it. Drop it into the boiling water; if it does not hold its shape and rise to the surface of the water within a minute, add more bread crumbs to the dough.
Once the consistency is correct, form the dough into torpedo shapes, approximately the size of golf balls. Lay the gnudi on pre-lined baking sheets. Dredge in flour to coat, tapping off the excess. Slide formed gnudi into the boiling water and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the top. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon after they float to the top. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; working in batches if necessary. To test for doneness, scoop out a ball and press it with your fingers: the dumpling dough when cooked should bounce back, leaving no indentation.
While the gnudi cook, melt the butter in a medium saute pan and continue cooking until golden brown color appears. Add sage leaves and cook until slightly crisped then remove from heat. Use sage as garnish.
Arrange gnudi on a platter and lightly drizzle with a butter and sage sauce, add freshly grated cheese, and serve immediately.