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Spinach and Ricotta Balls - Gnudis Recipe
by John Spottiswood

Spinach and Ricotta Balls - Gnudis

I've been looking for tasty ways to cook spinach and wild greens because they are so healthful. This one is fantastic. These are called Gnudis in Florence because they are "nude", e.g. missing the pasta on the outside. These are sort of like a spinach ravioli without the pasta. If that doesn't sound all that flavorful to you, wait till you sink your teeth into one of these. They pack an amazing amount of flavor! Our kids loved them too. And by leaving off the pasta, you cut the work at least in half. All in all, these took me about 30 minutes and it would be less the second time. A must try! I adapted this from a recipe in the "Red, White and Greens" cookbook by Faith Willinger. A good one.

Rating: 3.8/5
Avg. 3.8/5 6 votes
Prep time: Italy Italian
Cook time: Servings: 6


  • 1 pound wild greens or spinach (e.g. swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, beet greens, collards, etc.)
  • 5 quarts water
  • Salt plus 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup ricotta (drained if watery, whole milk preferred)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano (parmesan)
  • 1 large egg
  • A few gratings or sprinkles of nutmeg
  • Flour to coat


  1. Bring 5 qts water to boil
  2. Wash greens and place in boiling water for 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove greens with slotted spoon or with colander and another pot so you reserve the boiling water for cooking the Gnudis.
  4. Rinse the greens in a colander with cold water, grab handfuls, and squeeze (hard) to remove all the water. Place the balls of compressed greens in a food processor or strong blender. Roughly chop the greens in the blender, then add the egg, Ricotta, Parmigiano, teaspoon kosher or sea salt, and nutmeg and process into a smooth paste.
  5. With a spatula or spoon, transfer the paste into a medium size zip lock or other plastic bag. Cut a 1/2 inch off the corner of the bag so you can squeeze the paste into walnut size balls.
  6. Sift a layer of flour onto a smooth, clean surface (I do this directly on my granite counter...or use a cutting board). Squeeze 9-10 walnut sized balls of paste onto the flour. Sprinkle a little extra flour on top of the balls, then roll gently on the surface and in your hand to cover completely place in the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes and remove (Gnudis will be floating when you remove them). Transfer the Gnudis with a slotted spoon to a 9-12 inch baking pan, and repeat until mixture is all used up (about 30 Gnudis in all). These steps can be done up to a day in advance of serving. Just refrigerate the baking dish of Gnudis.
  7. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle Gnudi's with a good marinara sauce, melted butter, or meat sauce. (I've used Trader Joe's Basil Marinara with great results.). Sprinke with grated Parmagiano and bake for 14 minutes until cheese is melted and Gnudis have firmed and lightly browned.