NAKED RAVIOLI or gnudi as they’re lustily referred to in Italy are delicately poached dumplings from the innards of a ravioli. Basically, ravioli with no clothes on.
Earlier this summer,Christie introduced Ralph and I to wonderful friends of hers that have moved here from Toronto. During our first dinner together, I discovered that John loves to cook and Gina loves to eat. I love when the universe conspires to deliver me new foodie friends! We set a date for the five of us to spend the day at our farm cooking and eating.
When they arrived Saturday afternoon, John and I immediately raided my garden. He got such a kick out of being able to create our menu based on what looked good on-the-vine. It was so much fun to see the farm through their eyes. Both John and Gina have spent all of their lives in an urban setting. As we were touring them around the farm on our ATV’s, Gina yelled, “riding on an ATV was on my bucket list!” Ralph and I aim to please…
For dinner, John chose green string beans, hot chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, beet greens, basil, fennel fronds and sage to pick. The night before they’d arrived, I’d made a batch of fresh ricotta from non- homogenized milk that I’d bought at the farmer’s market at Pier 21 in Halifax a couple of weeks ago. I, also, had some sushi-grade yellow fin tuna to add to the mix. We braised the string beans in garlic, tomatoes and basil to serve, at room temperature, as a vegetable side dish. The cherry tomatoes were literally dripping off their vines. To savor their perfection, we did as little to them as possible. A simple addition of a single-estate extra virgin olive oil, sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper and we had our sauce. The tuna was flashed in a skillet then laid in a pool of our cherry tomato sauce and finished with a pesto made from the fennel fronds and toasted pine nuts.
The day before they arrived, I’d sent John a tweet asking if he’d ever made ‘gnudi’. He tweeted back: “Sounds delicious, Michelle! Haven’t made Gnudi… have wanted to ever since reading the recipe in
@DavidRoccosVita‘s books! @bitebymichelle” To our delight, the next tweet we received said, @bitebymichelle @UptownJWong Great! What time should I be there? ;-)”
We laughed all afternoon at how wonderful Twitter is and how small it’s made the world! I kept my eye on the driveway just in case he showed!
We served the gnudi with a Crispy Sage Butter and dusting of Parmigiana. We think Chef Rocco would have approved… Gnudi has become the new “IT” pasta even though it’s been around for centuries. I hope you’ll give it a try. As long as you get as much liquid squeezed out of the greens and drained from the ricotta, you’ll have no trouble. When you’re pairing your sauce with it, keep in mind how delicate both the flavour and texture are. A light tomato and herby cream sauce would be lovely. A meat sauce – not-so-good.
It always amazes me the way food brings people together. Spending the afternoon in the kitchen, with John and me cooking and Christie, Gina and Ralph sitting around the kitchen table laughing and sipping drinks was the perfect way to welcome our city friends into our country life.
BEET GREEN AND RICOTTA GNUDI
1 lb. ricotta
1 bunch beet greens
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup Reggiano Parmigiano, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Whole nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste
1/2 cup flour, plus a bit extra for your hands
- Line a colander with cheese cloth and put it in the sink.
- Spoon in the ricotta and drain for 2 hours.
- Transfer the ricotta to a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside.
- Wash beet greens and remove their stems.
- Coarsely chop leaves.
- Place them in a steamer over simmering water until limp.
- Drain and cool completely.
- When cooled, squeeze as much water from them as you can.
- Fold flour into drained ricotta.
- Add beet greens, egg, grated cheese, sea salt, pepper and nutmeg
- Mix until fully incorporated.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop heaping spoonfuls into your well flour hands and shape the dough into little walnut sized balls.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- When the gnudi are finished, place them in the fridge for 2 hours to set up.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil.
- Carefully add the gnudi and cook until they rise to the surface plus 1 minute.
- Serve immediately.
THE LOVE: Make sure you get as much moisture out of the ricotta ns the beet greens!
Thanks for reading.
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