Fratelli Perata Winery

Gnudi di Ricotta E Spinaci Al Tartufo 
(Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Truffle Oil)

The word “Gnudi” made a fairly recent appearance on the California coast. We first noticed it at Buona Tavola's menu in San Luis Obispo, then in a cookbook. From Northern Italy, some say Tuscany, some say Piedmont, these nude-y are very gnocchi like, or even like nude ravioli. Don't like the pasta step of ravioli production? Then make gnudi. Takes soft hands and be ready to serve hot from the stove with a nice glass of Barbera.

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 lb spinach, stems removed
1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbsp all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp butter, melted and blended with 2 tbsp white truffle oil
    or omit truffle oil and use 1 oz fresh white truffles brushed clean (optional)

Place ricotta in a colander lined with cheesecloth and let stand for 10-15 minutes to drain off any liquid.

Put spinach (be sure to have NO stems) damp from being rinsed off in a large pot over medium heat. Cover and cook until soft or about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. If you don't get this pretty dry, you will have to add more flour to have them hold their shape which will reduce the intensity of the gnudi flavor. Chop the spinach very finely by hand, recommended, or by pulsing in a food processor: kind of overkill. Again squeeze out any liquid.

Start a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to boil (to cook the gnudi in) .

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg yolks, ricotta, and spinach. Then add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients until a thick homogenous paste forms. Combining by hand is most efficient, but you could try using a spoon. Roll the mixture in the palms of your hands to 1 inch balls and dust them lightly with flour. The balls will be soft, but if they aren't holding their shape, cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Slip the gnudi into the water with a large slotted spoon. Boil gently until they float to the top, about 3 minutes. Use the spoon to transfer the gnudi to a warmed serving dish. Toss gently with the melted butter and truffle oil. If using fresh truffles, use a truffle shaver or vegetable peeler to thinly slice the truffles over the top of the gnudi. Top with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately and abundantly with Barbera.