Ricotta Gnudi with Wild Mushroom Sauce

>> Monday, December 29, 2014

Ricotta Gnudi with Wild Mushroom Sauce

New to gnudi? These little dumplings are actually the filling of ravioli; because they don't have a pasta covering, they're called "nude" in Italian. Gnudi, nude, yum. Though we love ravioli, we haven't perfected the homemade process yet. These are simpler.

Though we're just now seeing gnudi pop up on menus in the U.S. (see this Chicago Tribune article, "Gnudi May Make You Forget Ravioli"), gnudi has been a long-time love affair in Italy.

Here's a recipe for gnudi that satisfies our winter cravings for hearty food while giving us a break from a week of heavy meat-eating - not that I'm complaining! Around holidays, I'm always thankful I'm a carnivore.

Most of the recipe can be made days in advance (like a weekend when you have time to do some extra cooking), then finished up on the day you want to eat the ricotta gnudi. By the way, if you happen to have some fresh sage in your garden, snip a few leaves and crisp-fry them with the meat, then arrange them on top of the finished dish. Yum!

Ricotta Gnudi with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Truffle oil or salt is a luxury item that's rarely in our budget. But this year, Joe found a bottle of white truffle cream among his Christmas presents. It has butter, parmesan, and a bit of garlic, along with white Italian truffles. The musky, intense flavor was worth the big splurge, and added amazing flavor to this dish.


For the gnudi

1 pound low-fat ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano (or Pamesan)  cheese, freshly grated
1/4 tsp thyme
Salt and white pepper to taste
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup flour, for coating

For the sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
4 slices pancetta or lightly cured bacon (omit if you want a vegetarian dish)
8 fresh sage leaves (optional)
1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as portabellas, button, crimini, oyster, and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 cup onion, sliced and halved
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped sage
2 cups low-salt vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
4 tablespoons butter, diced


For gnudi: (note: the gnudi can be made several days ahead of time and chilled until ready to cook.)
Line medium bowl with up to 10 layers of paper towels. Spoon ricotta cheese into bowl. Wrap and squeeze moisture out. Re-line the bowl and repeat one more time. Finally re-line the bowl and let drain at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. This process removes a lot of the water that will prevent your gnudi from cooking up fluffy.

Beat egg, 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, thyme, salt, and white pepper in large bowl to blend. Mix in ricotta. Sprinkle 3/4 cup flour over and stir gently to blend. Cover and chill dough 1 hour. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place some flour in bowl. For each gnudi, gently roll 1 heaping teaspoonful of dough into ball, or roll between fingers and palm into a finger shape. Add to flour; toss to coat lightly with flour. Place on baking sheet. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover; chill at least 30 minutes.

Ricotta gnudi on prep pan

For the sauce (Note: this sauce can be made several hours ahead of time)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot or extra-large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta or bacon. Cook until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes per side. Let it drain on paper towels. Add whole sage leaves to pot or skillet; fry until crisp, about 1 minute per side. Let them drain with the bacon.

Heat the rest of the oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms, onions, thyme, and chopped sage. Sauté until the mushrooms are brown and liquids evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add broth to same pot and boil until slightly reduced, scraping up the browned bits, about 5 minutes. Stir in the truffle oil or cream. Add the salt and remove from heat.

Cook gnudi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the butter to the sauce and warm it to a low simmer. Add the gnudi and gently toss until the sauce coats the gnudi.

Serve in a large bowl with the crumbled pancetta and whole sage leaves scattered over the top.

Serves 4-6.


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