What are ricotta gnudi? Your new favorite dinner recipe, that’s what! If you’ve never ordered gnudi (pronounced: new-dee) at a restaurant, you may not be familiar with these light, ethereal ricotta dumplings. They’re similar in gnocchi, but are made with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes.
While they take a bit longer to make than Italian gnocchi (though most of that extra time is spent allowing the ricotta cheese to strain), I personally think it is easier to achieve a perfect texture in ricotta gnudi.
Once you understand the basics of how to make the simple gnudi dough, you can serve these in a variety of sauces. Here, we’re pairing them with fresh spring asparagus, English peas, and a ridiculously good browned butter sauce.
*This post was sponsored by Kings Food Market. All opinions are my own. I only support and promote brands that I believe in and use in my own kitchen – I hope you’ll check them out! Thank you for supporting the brands that make Well Seasoned possible.
- Fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese: If you have the time, try making ricotta cheese fresh at home! If not, store-bought is more than fine. Do not use part-skim or fat free.
- Pecorino Romano: This cheese is softer and slightly tangier than Parmesan. It adds a great brightness to the ricotta cheese.
- All-purpose flour: There’s a small amount of flour in this recipe to ensure the gnudi hold their shape.
- Egg yolk: This will act as a binding ingredient to help keep the gnudi dough together, along with the flour.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: To season everything!
- Unsalted butter: You’ll need at least 4 Tbsp to make the browned butter sauce.
- Fresh spring vegetables: asparagus and English peas! You can substitute with whichever veggies look best.
- Parmigiano Reggiano: Freshly grated, for serving.
- Lemon: Grab a fresh lemon and zest it right on top of the finished plated dish. It brings out all those beautiful flavors.
- Flaky sea salt: A pinch of flaky sea salt just before serving takes this ricotta gnudi recipe over the top!
Optional: fresh sage adds a lovely flavor to the browned butter sauce!
Grab everything you need from the Kings app, either for pick up or delivery, then run to the kitchen to make this asap! Well Seasoned readers can save $30 off your 1st DriveUp & Go order (over $75) with promo code KBSAVE30 – or save $20 off your first Delivery order (over $75) with code KBSAVE20 — yes, please!
How To Make Ricotta Gnudi
This gnudi recipe requires time, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort. And I find it’s 100x more rewarding than cooking a box of pasta. Here’s how to make Italian gnudi at home:
- Drain the ricotta to remove excess moisture. To do this, place ricotta cheese in a cheesecloth. Wrap it tightly, then place in a colander set on top of a bowl. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- Make the gnudi dough. To the strained ricotta, add an egg yolk, grated Pecorino Romano, a tiny bit of flour, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well, then chill for 1 hour.
- Form the gnudi. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each third into a log, then use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Gently roll to form uniform balls, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet dusted with a little flour or cornmeal. Chill for another 30 minutes.
- Cook the gnudi. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer, then carefully lower the gnocchi into the water. Cook until they float to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid, then use a slotted spoon to very gently transfer the gnudi directly into a pan with sauce.
You can pair them with any sauce you like! We recommend a browned butter sauce.
Finish The Gnudi In A Browned Butter Sauce
Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it turns golden brown and smells nutty and fragrant. Add a few sprigs of fresh sage (optional, but so delicious!), then remove after about 30 seconds.
Next, add blanched vegetables, such as asparagus and peas. Season lightly with Kosher salt, stir, then when ready, add cooked ricotta gnudi and a bit of the reserved cooking water.
Cook for just a few minutes, spooning some of the sauce on top of the gnudi. Add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese, some fresh lemon zest, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, then serve immediately.
- Use whole-milk ricotta cheese. To get the very best texture, you need to use full fat ricotta. Trust me.
- Do not skip the chill time — any of them! These are important steps to ensure that the gnudi do not fall apart as they cook. They are extremely delicate.
- Handle the ricotta gnudi carefully. In addition to the chill times, handle the dumplings gently, both while you’re forming them and while you’re cooking them.
- Cook at a simmer, not a boil. Otherwise, you risk the gnudi breaking apart during cook time.
- Finish the gnudi in a pan with sauce. As you can see from the photos below, all those glorious brown specks on the gnudi are from the browned butter sauce. You want to finish them in a pan with sauce to ensure they absorb as much flavor as possible.
- Best enjoyed the day they’re made! Yes, you can eat the leftovers throughout the week (not that you’ll have many…), but they are definitely their softest and most tender in texture when they are fresh out of the pan.
How To Serve
Because this recipe features an abundance of fresh vegetables, we don’t think you need to add anything else. If you want a side salad, this Arugula Salad is our forever easy weeknight go-to. But this recipe is fantastic as is.
If you’re serving ricotta gnudi as part of a comprehensive tasting menu, try pairing it in the following way:
1st course: Tomato Mozzarella Salad or Italian Rice Balls (arancini)
2nd course: Ricotta gnudi
3rd course: Ricotta Meatballs or Weeknight Chicken Milanese with Fennel Salad
4th course: Lemon Olive Oil Cake or Almond Ricotta Cake
Can you tell we really love ricotta cheese?!
What if I cook the gnudi and my sauce isn’t ready yet? Great question!
Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the cooked gnudi to a paper towel lined plate (they’ll drain a little bit) and then carefully place them in the sauce.
You’ve truly never experienced anything like this — the ricotta gnudi are so unbelievably tender that they melt in your mouth. I’m already dreaming of making these again!
If you make this Ricotta Gnudi recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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Impossibly Soft, Pillowy Ricotta Gnudi Recipe
- 1 lb fresh ricotta
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour plus about ½ cup more for work surface
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp Kosher salt plus more for serving
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper plus more for serving
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 sprigs of fresh sage optional
- 1 bunch asparagus ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1" pieces
- 4 oz fresh English peas
- Parmigiano Reggiano for serving
- 1 lemon zested, for serving
- Extra virgin olive oil for serving
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Drain the ricotta. Wrap the ricotta cheese in a cheese cloth, then place in a colander set over a large bowl. Weigh the ricotta down with something heavy to press out excess water. Allow to drain for 8 hours or overnight. Skipping this step will result in the gnudi falling apart during cooking.
- Make the gnudi mixture. In a large bowl, combine drained ricotta, ¼ cup Pecorino Romano, ¼ cup flour, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper. Use a spatula to thoroughly mix. Transfer the bowl to a fridge to chill for 1 hour.
- Prepare a baking sheet. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, then dust with about ¼ cup of flour.
- Form the gnudi. Divide the mixture into thirds, then roll each portion into a log about 10-12 inches long and 1-inch in diameter. Use a bench scraper to cut the gnudi into 1-inch long pieces, yielding about 10 gnudi per rope. With lightly floured hands, gently roll each gnudi into a uniform ball, then place onto the flour lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining gnudi.
- Chill before cooking. Dust the remaining ¼ cup of flour on top of the formed gnudi, ensuring they’re evenly coated on all sides. Transfer the prepared gnudi to a refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Blanch the vegetables. While the gnudi are chilling, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then season generously with Kosher salt, about 2-3 Tbsp. Add the asparagus and peas, then cook for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. After a few minutes, drain and pat dry. Bring the water back up to a simmer to cook the gnudi.
- Prepare the sauce. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it turns golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add 2 sprigs of sage leaves, if using, then cook until the sage stops sizzling, about 30 seconds. Remove the sage. Add the blanched asparagus and peas, then season lightly with Kosher salt. Lower the heat until the gnudi are cooked.
- Cook the gnudi. Carefully lower the gnudi into the simmering water, then cook until they float to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to immediately transfer the gnudi to the prepared sauce. Do not discard cooking water.
- Finish in the sauce. Sauté the gnudi in the sauce for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat, adding about ½ cup of reserved cooking water and swirling the pan gently to coat the gnudi without breaking them. Spoon a few of the gnudi onto individual plates, drizzling more of the sauce on top, as wanted, then serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil, grated Parmesan, lemon zest, additional freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
- Serves 4 as an entrée or 6 as an appetizer.
- Make ahead: The gnudi mixture can be made and refrigerated 2 days in advance before shaping. Shaped gnudi can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated 1 day in advance.
- Freeze: To freeze: arrange the gnudi on a baking sheet, then freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and use within 3 months. Frozen gnudi will cook in about 4-5 minutes in simmering water.