Gnudi are a joy—especially these gnudi, which involve a few cheffy flourishes but remain straightforward to prepare.
If you’re not already acquainted, think of gnudi as standalone ravioli filling (their name—which means "nude"—is a hint that they don't come robed in sheets of pasta dough). You might also consider them cousins of gnocchi, only more pillowy and less troublesome to make. If you want to impress someone with homemade pasta—especially without a pasta roller or other fiddly tools—this is the way to do it.
Gnudi are classically made with ricotta, bound with eggs and flour, and boiled for a few minutes until they gently bob to the water’s surface. To make mine autumnal, I added pumpkin purée and nutmeg to the mix. After cooking in water, they’re toasted in a frying pan with butter and sage leaves. To finish, caramelised onions impart sweetness, porcini broth adds umami depth and Parmigiano Reggiano does both.
Beyond being one of my favourite beers for, well, almost all occasions, 3 Fonteinen's Oude Geuze is also an excellent pairing partner for this dish. Sure, you could well serve pumpkin gnudi alongside a deeper, darker beer—but this masterful geuze, with its baked apple-like sweetness, tart finish, and rustic yeast character, is a lovely fit. And with its fizz, it adds something of a celebratory air, too. All you need now? A crackling fireplace to go with.
Pumpkin Gnudi with Fried Sage, Caramelised Onions and Porcini Broth
For the gnudi:
1 cup (approx. 235g) canned pumpkin puree (I used Libby's)
1 cup (approx. 215g) ricotta
1 cup (approx. 150g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup (approx. 110g) flour (preferably 00-grade)
1/4 cup (approx. 40g) semolina
For the onions:
30g unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions
For the broth:
25g dried porcini mushrooms
450ml boiling water
Scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
100g unsalted butter
20-30 sage leaves
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
First, make the gnudi. In a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Scrape into a large bowl and add both the 00-grade flour and the semolina. Stir gently until just combined.
Prepare a baking tray: line with a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle over a generous amount of semolina (this will prevent the gnudi from sticking). Next, fill a small bowl with excess semolina (you'll be using this to coat your gnudi, which will also help them hold together).
Use a spoon to scoop out a small amount of dough; roll gently between your palms until it's about 1-inch wide, or the size of a large marble. Place gently in the bowl of semolina and sprinkle semolina over the top so it's full coated. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough until all of your gnudi have been formed (pausing to wash and dry your hands from time to time if the dough begins to stick to your palms). Cover loosely with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, which will help the gnudi set.
Roughly half an hour before you're ready to cook your gnudi, slice the two onions finely. In a medium frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring semi-regularly, for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the onions are soft and deeply caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside.
As your onions cook, prep your porcini broth. Add the dried porcini mushrooms to a medium bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir in the salt and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Strain out the mushrooms. You can add these to the final dish if you wish, though I prefer to save them for another occasion.
Remove your gnudi from the fridge. Bring a medium saucepan of well salted water to a boil. Turn down to medium-low heat (you want the water at a gentle simmer). With a slotted spoon, add approximately 12 gnudi, ensuring that the pan is not crowded. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the gnudi gently rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and cover to keep warm. Continue to cook the gnudi in batches.
To finish, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the boiled gnudi with a slotted spoon and the sage leaves (you may need to do this in two batches, dividing the butter and sage in two as well). Cook for approximately four minutes, turning the gnudi halfway through, or until they are lightly golden, the sage is fried and crispy, and the butter has browned. Remove from heat.
To serve, divide the gnudi between four plates, pouring over the browned butter and sage evenly. Scatter the caramelised onions across, and pour over the broth (enough for the gnudi to sit in, but not so much that they're floating). Top with a generous sprinkle of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and treat yourself to a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. You're worth it.