Gnudi are essentially stuffed pasta without the pasta — delicate little cheese dumplings bound lightly with flour. The name comes from nudo, the Italian word for naked. I strongly caution against substituting all-purpose flour for the finely ground 00 flour specified. I have tried using all-purpose flour and ended up with heavy dumplings. Gnudi should be light and pillowy morsels that dance on your tongue, not lumps that sit in your stomach. They may be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
- 2 pounds fresh ricotta, preferably sheep's milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
- Additional flour for tossing
- freshly grated parmesan
- 2 8-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
- 1/2 cup peeled, chopped carrots
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
For the marinara
Heat the olive oil in a nonreactive saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute or two. Don’t let the garlic brown, or the sauce will taste like burnt garlic. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until reduced by half.
Puree the tomatoes through a food mill and add to the pan. Bring to a low simmer and stir in the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add the basil and parsley and simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking. The sauce may be refrigerated for a week, and it keeps for months in the freezer.
For the gnudi
To make the gnudi, line a large fine mesh sieve with dampened cheesecloth. Fill with the ricotta and drain for 1 hour.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the pecorino, salt and pepper. Stir in the ricotta. Gradually add the flour while stirring. Do not overwork the dough or the gnudi will be tough. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 1 hour.
Place some additional flour in a large bowl. Divide the gnudi dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough in the flour until lightly coated. Gently roll the dough into a log about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the log into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnudi and stir gently. They cook quickly: When they float to the surface, they’re done. Gnudi are fragile, so use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to carefully remove them from the boiling water. Transfer immediately to the sauce, and serve right away. They are best when steaming hot. Shave a little fresh Parmesan cheese over top. Buon appetito!