In Italy, ravioli are ricotta dumplings with a wrapper, but gnudi, Italian for "naked," are ricotta dumplings without the wrapper, and they are like little melt-in-the-mouth pillows. Gnudi hail from Tuscany and are the size of a quarter and light as a feather. So stripped-down and sensual, they are an absolute treat. In Sorrento, gnocchi are the closest thing they have to gnudi.
Watching Conchetta Cadolini make the potato gnocchi that she has been serving to her family in Sorrento for years was nothing short of beautiful. To taste them was equally rewarding. And to get her stamp of approval on mixing fat-free ricotta with whole milk ricotta left me feeling quite humbled.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a short, wide pot like a chicken fryer and add 2 tablespoons salt. Heat the marinara in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat to a simmer and turn off the heat.
Combine both ricottas, the pastry flour, three-quarters of the Parmigiano, the basil, nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of the egg white powder in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir everything together with a rubber spatula until mixed thoroughly.
Scoop out 20 heaping tablespoons of the mixture, place them on a baking sheet, and form them into small balls with your hands. Place the balls in the freezer for about 6 minutes to harden.
Place the cornstarch in a shallow baking dish; place the remaining 3 tablespoons egg white powder in a separate shallow baking dish. Roll the balls first in the egg white powder to coat very well, then roll the balls in the cornstarch until they are completely coated.
Drop the balls into the rapidly boiling water and cook for precisely 2 minutes.
Divide the hot marinara sauce among 4 bowls. Remove the gnudi with a slotted spoon and place them directly in the bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano.
Tips: Don't drain the gnudi into a colander after they are cooked, or the little pillows will burst.
Coating the balls very well wiht the egg white powder and cornstarch seals in the goodness of the gnudi.
Less Flour, More Flavor: The reason traditional gnudi don't fall apart in the boiling water is because they're dried uncovered overnight and a natural flour wrapper forms. Since I couldn't use the highly caloric flour, I had to devise a way to envelop the cheese without adding too many calories. The combination of egg white powder and cornstarch accomplished just that. The exercise of swapping out calories often produces a result where flavors pop even more than in the original, as is the case here.
Check out the video playlist above to watch Rocco make this recipe.
In "Now Eat This! Italy," watch New York Times best-selling author and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito as he travels to Italy to learn how to make all our favorite Italian dishes from the real Mamas of Italy like lasagna Bolognese with Lucia Ercolano, Spaghetti Vongole with Daniella Miccio and Insalata Caprese with Maria Ercolano. In this unique intersection of travel, adventure, culinary and healthy Rocco answers the question, "Can you eat pasta and lose weight?"
Produced: 2013 By: Savory Place Media