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David Lissner
for restaurants

Eat this! Gnudi, the naked dumplings

Vie gnudi

Vie's gnudi with pickled beets, lemon olive oil and fried kale.

What it is: Gnudi are small, delicate Italian dumplings, made from ricotta cheese. Similar to gnocchi, they lighter and more pillowy in texture.

Where it comes from: The name “gnudi” means “naked” in the Tuscan dialect, and you sometimes see them called “ravioli gnudi,” because they are essentially the filling of ravioli without the surrounding pasta. They’re also called malfatti, which means “poorly made.” Some sources claim they date back to the 14th century.

In recent years, the dumplings received a spurt of popularity when they became a signature dish at The Spotted Pig in New York.

Nathan Sears

Nathan Sears

What to do with it: Serve gnudi with any toppings you would use for ravioli or gnocchi. At Vie in Western Springs, Chef Paul Virant and Sous Chef Nathan Sears offer gnudi atop roasted and pickled beets with lemon olive oil and a garnish of fried Tuscan kale.

“The gnudis are so great alone they don’t need much in the support department,” says Virant, “but some accent flavors really help bring out the cheese and balance the richness of them.”

“Brown butter is a simple accent,” says Sears, “or we do the lemon olive oil and maybe some pine nuts would be really nice.”

Some versions of gnudi incorporate other ingredients, such as chopped spinach, mixed into the dough.

Vie’s gnudi
Ricotta dumplings
Chef Nathan Sears

1 pound ricotta cheese
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
About 3 cups semolina flour or as needed

Combine the cheeses and egg in a medium bowl, mix well and spoon into balls. Place on a tray covered with semolina and pour more semolina over the top to completely cover the balls. Leave buried in semolina for two days in the refrigerator.

Before serving, remove the balls from the semolina, shaking off excess. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer and poach the gnudi until they float, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add any favorite toppings. 4 to 6 servings.

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