Spinach Ricotta Gnudi Two Ways

“What is gnudi?” you ask – besides a funny word.  It’s like gnocchi but cheese-based rather than potato-based.  You could think of it as cheese ravioli without the pasta or as a ricotta dumpling.  The only things you really need to know about gnudi is it’s delicious and anyone can make it!  This post will take you through step-by-step instructions to make your own homemade gnudi and give you two different sauce recipes to serve with your gnudi.

Gnudi Two Ways

These recipes come from Marcella Hazan, the queen of Italian cooking.  Her cookbook Essentials of Italian Cooking is the only Italian cookbook you will ever need to own!  She covers everything from homemade pasta and sauces to risottos to vegetables to rustic Italian main dishes.  There are so many recipes in her book that it will keep you, and your tastebuds, busy for a LONG time.

Spinach Ricotta Gnudi Two Ways

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2


5 oz. (1/2 a package) frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed
1 tbsp. Butter
1/2 tbsp. finely-chopped Onion
3/8 c. (6 tbsp.) Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/3 c. Flour
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 c. freshly-grated Parmesan + extra for serving (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Optional: 1 tbsp. chopped Prosciutto or Ham
Tomato Onion Sauce or Tomato Cream Sauce (see below)

1.  Put the butter and onion in a skillet and turn the heat onto medium.  Cook until the onion is lightly golden.  If you decide to incorporate the prosciutto, now is the time to add it to the skillet: once the onion is golden, add the prosciutto and stir until it’s evenly mixed in.

2.  Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Saute Spinach

3.  Transfer the contents of the skillet to a bowl and allow to cool (about 5 minutes).

4.  Add the ricotta and flour to the bowl and stir together.  Add the egg yolk and parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, if desired.

5.  Roll the mixture into small balls (about the size of a large marble).  You’ll probably need to flour your hands periodically to keep the gnudi from sticking.  This is the most time-consuming step of the prep work.  It usually takes me about 10 minutes to get all the gnudi rolled.

Note: I usually get about 30 gnudi from this recipe.

Roll Gnudi

6.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add 8-12 gnocchi to the pot at a time.  Once the water returns to a boil, cook for ~3 minutes.  If after 3 minutes the gnudi are not floating, cook another minute or so until they are all at the surface.

Boil Gnudi

7.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnudi to the skillet with your sauce.  Continue working in batches until all gnudi are cooked (mine are usually done in 3 batches).

Add Gnudi to Sauce

Once all the gnudi are cooked, toss with your sauce and serve topped with extra parmesan.  Make sure you eat these delicious morsels while they’re still hot!  To turn this dish into a meal, pair it with a vegetable side such as our Baked Brussels Sprouts **FIX**or Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto.

Tomato Onion Sauce

One sauce option for your gnudi is Tomato Onion Sauce.  It is the easiest sauce you will ever make!  You just put your three ingredients in a skillet together and simmer for 45 minutes – that’s it.  This sauce is great on both gnudi and gnocchi.  I imagine it would also make a tasty pasta sauce, but I’ve never tried it.

Prep Time: less than 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2


1 c canned San Marzano Tomatoes, cut up, with their juices
2 1/2 tbsp. Butter
1/2 Onion, peeled and cut in half

1.  Put the tomatoes, butter, and onion in a skillet.

Note: To get a smoother sauce, puree the tomatoes before adding them to the skillet.

2.  Cook at a low simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  By the end, the butter should be separating from the sauce.

Finished Sauce

3.  Discard the onion, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over gnudi.

Gnudi in Tomato Onion Sauce

Tomato Cream Sauce

Tomato cream sauce is also great with gnudi – it’s actually Marcella Hazan’s recommended pairing.  It requires slightly more prep work than the Tomato Onion Sauce, but it’s still VERY easy.  It does taste a little better with the gnudi than the Tomato Onion Sauce, but it’s quite rich.  Since the gnudi is already somewhat heavy (it is made with cheese after all) I usually choose to pair it with the lighter Tomato Onion Sauce and save this sauce for special occasions or when I’m feeling indulgent.  It also makes a delicious sauce for pasta – particularly ravioli and tortellini.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2


scant 3 tbsp. Butter (2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. to be exact)
1 1/2 tbsp. finely-chopped Onion
1 1/2 tbsp. finely-chopped Carrot
1 1/2 tbsp. finely-chopped Celery
1 1/4 c. canned San Marzano Tomatoes with their juices
1/4 c. Heavy Cream

1.  Put butter, onion, carrot, celery, and tomatoes in a skillet.

2.  Cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Puree the sauce and return it to the skillet.

Puree Sauce

4.  Increase the heat to medium and stir in the cream.  Cook, stirring continuously, for an additional minute or two.

Add Cream

5.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over gnudi.

Gnudi with Tomato Cream Sauce


3 thoughts on “Spinach Ricotta Gnudi Two Ways

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