Foodblogging is really pushing my boundaries and I am loving it. It’s not just that I’ve learned to bake with all of these alternative, low carb ingredients, although that is certainly part of it. But I have also discovered a whole world of food I never knew existed. The foodporn sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting are largely to blame. Almost daily I come across some food I’ve never heard of, or see ingredients combined in unique and ingenious ways. I know without question that I am outclassed as a baker and a cook, but it hardly matters to me. I am simply enjoying the learning process and taking inspiration as it comes. Even when I fail miserably (low carb disappearing meringue, anyone?).
I’d never heard of gnudi until I ran across it on a food photo site. But I instantly recognized it as something I could make low carb and it would be as good as the original. In its most basic form, gnudi is the ricotta filling of ravioli, without the ravioli. “Nude” ravioli, so to speak, which is exactly what it means in Italian. I saved a link to someone’s recipe somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it since. I save a lot of recipes in various places all over the internet. I have set up numerous virtual recipe boxes and I can never remember where I’ve seen things I want to make. It’s a sickness, it really is.
Thank goodness for Giada Di Laurentiis. Her straightforward gnudi recipe came to my rescue when I finally decided I wanted to make these. I just so happened to have all of the ingredients, including the whole milk ricotta. I would love to try it with fresh ricotta, but that’s not readily available in this particular suburb of Boston. If only I could make it to the North End more often. I did change the proportions a little, with less spinach and more ricotta. I also kept it low carb by using a combination of carbalose flour and gluten flour. For a sauce, I went with my basic homemade Rosemary Tomato Sauce. I’ve seen some lovely pairings with a sage butter sauce but I didn’t have any fresh sage at hand and I didn’t want to be messing with a last-minute sauce. Not with three kids around, clamouring for dinner!
The Results: Who knew you could have ravioli without the actual pasta? Well, clearly other people did, but I certainly did not. And I am pleased to pronounce it delicious. The little gnudi were light and soft, without being at all chewy or rubbery, which was my main concern. The flavour was great on its own, but even better with a small complement of tomato sauce. And the best part for me was that it was remarkably filling. Given my level of fitness and my fast metabolism, I am often left hungry by low carb meals, but this kept me feeling full all through the night.
Although these are quite simple to make, forming them does take a bit of time. Unlike the instructions in the original recipe, I found that it was easier to drop spoonfuls of dough into the flour and roll it before actually shaping each one. Give yourself a bit of time to form all of the gnudi prior to cooking them. You also want to make sure to squeeze your spinach of all excess moisture so that the gnudi hold together properly. The sauce can be made ahead of time and rewarmed when the gnudi are ready.
Spinach Ricotta Gnudi with Rosemary Tomato Sauce – adapted from Giada Di Laurentiis
1 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup grated parmesan
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tbsp carbalose flour, plus 1/2 cup for dusting
2 tbsp gluten flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, diced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, parmesan, eggs and egg yolks. Mix well to combine. Add flours, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix thoroughly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil.
Pour remaining carbalose flour into a shallow plate. Drop 1/2 tablespoons of ricotta mixture into flour and roll gently until fully covered. Tap off excess flour and form into slightly flattened balls. Set aside until all gnudi are formed.
Using a slotted spoon, gently slide gnudi into boiling water, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Work in batches if necessary. Remove gnudi with a slotted spoon once they float to the top and have cooked for four minutes. Let drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
For the sauce, heat oil over medium in a large skillet until shimmering. Add onions and cook until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juices, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Serve gnudi with sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Serves 6. Each serving of gnudi has a total of 11.6g of carbs and 3.9g of fiber, but this includes all of the flour for dusting and you won’t use it all up. Each serving of sauce has 3.9g of carbs but you can go lightly on this to keep the carbs to a minimum.