An old client Tina first introduced me to “gnudies.” She recalled enjoying them on a vacation to Italy, and then trying them at home, unsuccessfully. We talked about making a batch together, but she couldn’t imagine how they would be easy enough to justify the effort.
As I work on recipes for Restoration Farm’s CSA cookbook, I scour for ideas that use chard, kale and other cooking greens that seem to baffle so many home cooks yet make regular appearances in CSA boxes. In my recipe folder of dishes I want to try is a recipe for Gnudies. I clipped it out many years ago with thoughts that I’d make it with Tina… and then with thoughts that I would try it on my own. Now, when I scan the folder for new ideas, my eyes glaze past this one.
Gnudies are Italian dumplings, a variation on gnocchi, made with ricotta and wilted greens. The kale in my garden continues to produce enough to try out this recipe. The flavor is wonderful – a masterful blend of light and rich, filling without being heavy. I served them with Bolognese Sauce.
Ricotta and Kale Gnudies
In the future, I would puree the greens finer than I did on my first test-run.
1 pound swiss chard or spinach, or 1/2 pound Tuscan kale to make 1 1/3 cups squeezed cooked greens, washed
1 tbs. olive oil
2 – 3 chopped garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the cooking water
1 cup ricotta, drained in a metal sieve if watery
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½ cup flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon or chili flakes (depending on your mood)
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cup melted butter or 1/2 cup tomato sauce (mixed with pinenuts and raisins) or 1/2 cup homemade tomato-meat sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil and garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, add greens. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until bright green and wilted. Remove the greens and place them in a colander. Let cool. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook the greens in several batches
Divide the cooked greens in three parts and squeeze between both hands to form balls and remove all excess water. Squeeze hard! Reserve the liquid to add to sauce.
Measure 1 1/3 cups of the cooked greens. Coarsely chop the greens with a knife, and then finely chop in a food processor. To the greens, add the ricotta, Parmigiano, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and lemon zest and process to form a smooth paste. Fold in flour.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Transfer the paste to a pastry bag with a large tip or a medium-sized plastic bag with a 1/2-inch corner cut off. Pipe out ½” dumplings. Alternatively, use two spoons to form dumplings and drop into water.
Poach 8-9 dumplings at a time, for 2-3 minutes or until they float to the surface of the water. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle the nudies with melted butter, or tomato or meat sauce, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and cheese has melted and serve.
Note: Dumplings can be made a day in advance, up to step 6, and heated with the melted butter or sauce and cheese before serving.