This spicy dumpling pasta-like dish is easy vegetarian comfort food that also looks elegant. We all know leafy greens are really good for you and I happen to love them. But for anyone out there that's not a huge fan of vegetables or anything green, you will love this Spinach Gnudi, too.
This post contains affiliate links where I might receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Why this Recipe Works
Gnudi is a fantastic recipe if you're looking for a gnocchi-style pasta dish but don't want anything that uses potato. My gnudi recipe makes delicious dumplings out of spinach and ricotta.
Squeezing out the liquid in the spinach ensures you won't have to add too much flour. A flour-heavy dumpling can be chewy, and these dumplings are fluffy.
Spinach and ricotta is a tried and true great combination. Ricotta is a thick and creamy cheese which pairs well with the tangy herb flavor of cooked spinach. Combining the savory tomato-based pomodoro provides amazing flavor contrast with the creamy gnudi.
Plus, there's a spicy kick from the red pepper flakes and peperoncino in the pomodoro sauce. It adds the final touch of perfection to the flavor profile.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Breadcrumbs - you can substitute with matzo meal, panko, crushed crackers, potato chips, or even pulverized oats.
Parmesan - great substitutions are grated manchego, or pecorino romano.
Flour - in this recipe, you can replace the all-purpose flour with oat flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, or semolina.
Ricotta - if you must replace, you can can use cottage cheese or fresh goat cheese.
How to Make this Recipe
We will start by making the sauce. While it is simmering, we will make the gnudi.
This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Deluca Trattoria in El Segundo, CA.
The Spicy Sauce
You can find more detailed instructions for making this sauce in my recipe for Eggplant Rolls that use the same sauce.
Heat the olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. Add in the peperoncino, shallot, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and basil. Once your garlic looks cooked but has not yet browned, add in the tomatoes.
Make sure to taste the sauce and adjust your seasoning as needed. If it tastes too acidic, add a pinch of sugar. Once the tomatoes are brought up to temperature, lower the heat to simmer and cover the sauce for 20-30 minutes.
When you're done with the sauce, you can decide if you would like a smoother consistency, which you can achieve by blending the sauce.
Start by defrosting your frozen spinach and then removing as much liquid as you possibly can. I like to defrost it overnight, then squeeze the spinach over a strainer in the sink.
Next, bring a big pot of water to boil. While you wait for the water to boil, you can make the gnudi.
In a food processor combine the spinach, egg, ricotta, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pulse the spinach ricotta mixture 5-10 times.
Then add in the flour and breadcrumbs. Pulse it all together until it begins to form a ball and ingredients are mixed well.
With wet hands, make 1-inch balls of dough and drop them into salted, boiling hot water. When they float, remove them from the water and place on a rack, in a colander, or remove using a slotted spoon to drain.
Note: If your hands get dry, the batter will start to stick to your hands. Simply re-wet your hands to prevent sticking and repeat.
I like to turn off the sauce at this point and add the gnudi straight into the sauce. This way, they can absorb some of the flavors before plating and serving.
And your spinach gnudi is ready! Serve with grated parmesan and top with fresh chopped basil.
They should be fine as long as you've squeezed out all the excess liquid in the spinach. You can fix this by adding more flour, but note that adding more flour can yield a chewy dumpling.
Gnudi can be frozen. Once you make the balls of spinach and ricotta, place on a baking sheet and transfer to the freezer. Once frozen, you can transfer to a freezer bag for easy storage. They will be good for up to 1 month. Defrost when ready to eat.
If you like the texture of crispy gnudi, you can pan-fry them after rolling into balls and boiling them before placing in the sauce. Use a small amount of butter or oil and a medium heat to give them that crispy exterior.
Inspired and craving more pasta recipes? Try these fantastic options!
★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!★
Spinach Gnudi with Spicy Pomodoro
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 peperoncino minced
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves minced
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 16 basil leaves
- 1 ½ - 2 lb. diced tomatoes canned or fresh
- 1 lb. frozen spinach
- 1 lb ricotta
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup parmesan
- 2 tablespoon breadcrumbs or similar
- 2 eggs
- salt & pepper red pepper flakes, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (I use ~½ of a fresh nutmeg grated with a microplane)
- red pepper flakes
- nutmeg to taste (I use ~½ of a fresh nutmeg grated with a microplane)
- Defrost the spinach. Remove as much liquid as you can.
- Bring a pot of water to boil.
- While you wait, start your sauce by heating the olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. Add the peperoncino, shallot, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and basil.
- Once the garlic looks cooked but is not yet brown, add the tomatoes. taste and adjust seasoning. If it tastes too acidic, add a pinch of sugar. Once the tomatoes are brought to temperature lower the heat to simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes. If a smoother consistency is desired, blend the sauce.
- In a food processor combine the spinach, egg, ricotta, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pulse 5-10 times.
- Add the flour and breadcrumbs. Pulse until it begins to form a ball and ingredients are mixed well.
- With wet hands, make 1-inch balls of dough and drop into salted, boiling water. When they float, remove them from the water and place on a rack or in a collander to drain. I like to turn off the sauce add the gnudi to the sauce so they absorb some of the flavors. Serve with grated parmesan and chopped basil.
This post was originally published in February of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, FAQs, and tips in October of 2021.