Get naked

Think how much time you saved if you didn’t have to get dressed every morning. I accept that it’s not a practical solution for everybody in particular me, who has trouble wearing pants that go higher than my ankles, but for ravioli it’s a miracle. You forget the wrapper all together and make only the tender tidbit on the inside. From Tuscany, where they are completely practical, heavily dressed on all occasions, and into stripping down their food to the bare essentials come the cutest little gnudi (noodie) you ever saw. Unembarrassed tiny melt in your mouth balls of fresh spinach, fresh ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, and egg to bind are boiled for about one minute then tossed into a browned butter sauce w/whole cloves of garlic and sage leaves. It doesn’t get better.

For a crowd of 10:

20 ounces of baby spinach leaves, boiled for one minute with a sprig of parsley, cooled and squeezed dry, chopped well
1 pint of fresh ricotta
handful of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (or grana)
a few grates of fresh nutmeg, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with your hand

Mix all that together and give it a taste. It should be delicious. You might have to add a bit more salt or a teeny weeny bit more nutmeg. Pour a good layer of flour onto 2 sheet pans. Spoon little balls of the mixture, about one inch across, onto the sheet pan.
Spoon flour over from the flour that is already on the sheet pan. Leave them like this until you’re done with the rest. Bring a pan of water to the boil and get a bowl of ice water to shock them. (or you can serve them right away)
Melt a stick of butter (remember this is for 10 people) and add three whole cloves of garlic that have been cut in half along with 4 or 5 whole sage leaves. Allow to simmer until the butter is beginning to brown a bit.
Gently shake each ball in a sieve to remove excess flour. Drop them about 10 at a time into the boiling water; as soon as they rise to the top they are done. Remove them onto a sieve and then into the ice bath, then onto paper towel and onto a buttered plate. You can hold them like this for a few hours to a day. When ready to serve, heat the butter in two saute pans and add the gnudi to heat through. Sprinkle extra parm on a platter, tip the gnudi over with all the butter and sprinkle extra parm on top.

Here is the menu I served them with:

First: I gnudi (handmade ricotta/spinach dumplings) w/browned butter, garlic and sage

Main: Roast scottish salmon w/seared scallop served on soffritto (slow cooked celery, carrot, onion, garlic, herbs ) and lemon aioli sides of leek risotto and spears of sauteed asparagus

Salad: Baby spinach, endive, bibb, braised beet, avocado, shallot and lemon zest

Dessert: Orange cake w/berries and cream

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