Carrot and ricotta gnudi

This is actually a recipe I already had on the blog — one of the very early ones, from March 2011, believe it or not. But I wanted to revisit the dish. It is one that I love for a couple of reasons — one, because it is a recipe that was first made for me by my college roommate, Sara Lando (an incredible Venetian photographer and part of the duo behind the design of this blog) and it brings me back to her, and our time navigating art school in the US together — nearly 20 years ago now! This is in fact a revisitation of her original recipe.

And secondly, because it is simply such a pleasure to eat — while I was preparing these this time, I said to Marco, “I don’t know why this isn’t more of a thing, why don’t people do this all the time?” So here it is, again, re-introduced because it is spring, carrots are delicious and I think this wonderful dish needs a little bit more attention.

Sara, who comes from the beautiful town of Bassano del Grappa, actually called these carrot gnocchi. But because these remind me so much of Tuscan gnudipillowy balls of equal amounts of ricotta and spinach, usually served in a sauce of just-melted butter and wilted sage leaves — I can’t help but keep calling them gnudi too. I also couldn’t help add a little bit more ricotta to the mixture than what Sara does (I doubled it), and a few leaves of sage, but aside from these minor changes I’ve stuck to Sara’s recipe.

Funnily enough, Sara often lived on a bag of crisps for dinner, so when she said she was cooking dinner and presented these gnocchi to me one night, I was totally blown away! It is also telling of this lovely recipe — it is actually a cinch to make.

My tips for making these are similar to the classic Tuscan gnudi. Get a nice firm ricotta, and if you need to (usually you do), ensure it is well-drained. This is a soft mixture, not a firm one, but if you are finding the mixture too soft to shape into balls, use two spoons to help you, and I admit I was heavy handed in the extra dusting of semolina once shaped so they are easier to handle (and even more similar to classic gnudi!).

Carrot gnudi

This recipe below makes about 16 gnudi, which is plenty for 2, even stretching to 3. And if you’re serving this as a starter before another course, it makes a perfect portion of about 4 gnudi a head for 4 people. You can easily double it.

Serves 2-3 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 500 grams carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 120 gr (1/2 cup) fresh ricotta, well drained
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbs semolina flour, plus more for dusting (aka semolina rimacinata, if you do not have this use plain flour)
  • 35 gr (1/4 cup) plain flour
  • 1 tbs finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • nutmeg (or white or black pepper)
  • 50 gr butter
  • handful of fresh sage leaves

Boil or steam the carrots until tender, then either blend in a food processor or squash them with a potato masher until mashed. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg yolks, flours and parmesan cheese until just combined. Add the cooled carrot mash and season with salt and nutmeg.

With two tablespoons to help you, make golf-ball sized balls of the mixture, placing them on semolina-dusted surface (wood preferably, as stone or marble tends to cause sticking, otherwise on top of parchment paper) until you’ve finished. Heat a pot of salted water to boil and carefully drop in the gnudi. After a minute, give a gentle stir to make sure they are not stuck to the bottom of the pot.

In the meantime, melt the butter gently in a pan wide enough to fit the gnudi too. Add the sage leaves and gently wilt in the butter. Add a few spoonfuls of water from the pot and bring to a fast simmer, which should ensure the butter doesn’t brown (although that is another type of sauce entirely and might also be nice) and instead creates a sweet, creamy emulsion.

Let boil for several minutes, when they feel firm and begin to float, remove with a slotted spoon placing gnudi directly into the butter sauce. Serve with parmesan cheese.

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Comments

  1. Jocelyn O’Brien says:

    Thank you for all your beautiful and thoughtfully written posts on Instagram. I love them all and hope one day to attend one or more of your workshops. Your children are precious and are similar in ages to my two granddaughters. I’ve spent lots of time in Italy and it is my favorite place on earth. I miss it so much! Keep up the wonderfully inspiring work! Thank you, Jocelyn

  2. chrisanne davis says:

    Hello !
    Thank you for such beautifully researched recipes .
    Can gluten free flour or finely ground polenta be substituted for the flour and semolina here making it gluten free ? Or / also is there a gluten free mix or brand of flour you like ? I live in Portland, Oregon.
    Grazie !

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