Cozy ricotta gnudi is a restaurant-worthy dish that only looks complicated

Easily one of the best days of my 2020 — a year with very few best days to speak of — was the one in which I spent a relaxed afternoon playing Nino Rota, drinking red wine and making homemade pasta with the KitchenAid attachment I’d splurged on impulsively.

It was one of the most relaxed, meditative experiences of my culinary life, and the fresh fettuccini I produced was extraordinary. “I’m going to make this a regular thing,” I told myself. And if by “regular thing,” I meant two more times in three years, I absolutely succeeded.

Look, pasta is fun, but pasta is work. You need to block out time for making the dough, resting it, cutting it and drying it. You need to buy a piece of equipment you will maybe never actually use and then feel guilty about. And you may, as I found with my first few turns through the crank, find yourself with an unyielding dough that doesn’t want to be turned into noodles. No wonder the process seems so intimidating; it kind of is, actually.

So, before spending money on a pasta roller and blocking out a Chianti-lubricated afternoon for dough preparation, why not ease into the experience with a much less complicated, pasta-adjacent project? Let me make the case here for gnudi.

Gnudi is gnocchi’s even simpler cousin. Made with flour and ricotta and little else, these doughy pillows are simultaneously delicate and substantial. They are also beautifully achievable, with no special ingredients or fancy techniques required. The only tricky part is figuring out how to choose your own gnudi adventure.

There are a lot of recipes for the dish out there, and they all seem to disagree about the type of flour you should use — semolina, cake flour, all-purpose — as well as the perfect amount. Some recipes require up to three eggs; some use none at all.

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After spending far more time researching gnudi than I had any intention of spending actually making it, I decided to stride down the middle and pretty much wing it. I cobbled together a gnudi that seemed to me the most streamlined for a weeknight dinner or an understocked pantry. The end result? Supremely delicious, little ricotta nuggets that I then finished in a simple sauce of brown butter.

Sure, it was a little more labor intensive than boiling a box of dried pasta, but it was still easy enough to put a really special meal on the table in well under an hour. “I need to make this a regular thing,” I told my family as we tucked in one still chilly early spring evening. And this time, I think I meant it.

* * *

Inspired by Delish and Savoring the Good

Hearty Ricotta Gnudi


 4-6 servings

Prep Time

 10 minutes, plus chill time

Cook Time

 15 minutes


  • 1 cup AP flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 15-ounce container full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. On a sheet pan lined with a few layers of paper towels, spoon out the ricotta. Top with more paper towels and blot out the excess moisture.

  2. Add the ricotta to a large bowl, then stir in the flour, cheese, egg and salt and pepper.
  3. Wipe off the sheet pan and line it with parchment. Sprinkle a little more flour on it to keep the gnudi from sticking.
  4. There are many ways to shape your gnudi, including rolling it into a log and cutting off pieces, or piping it through a pastry bag. I say just use a spoon to scoop out evenly sized pieces, then roll them into balls. (I made mine tablespoon-sized.)
  5. Once you have rolled out all the gnudi, sprinkle the tray with more flour.
  6. Place the tray in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes (or longer if you want to prepare ahead). While the gnudi is chilling, set a large pot of water to boil.
  7. Lay out a clean kitchen towel or a pan with a few paper towels. Using a kitchen spider or similar, lower the gnudi into the water one or two at a time. As they bob to the top of the water, remove them to the towel to drain.
  8. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the butter until just browned and nutty smelling. Add the gnudi and gently pan fry until just golden. Serve with chopped herbs and more grated cheese, if you like.

Cook’s Notes

Don’t feel like making brown butter? Skip the pan frying. Simply drain the gnudi and stir through with your favorite pesto.

Read more

easy pasta dishes

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