From "The Al Tiramisu Cookbook: An Elevated Approach to Authentic Italian Cuisine," by Luigi Diotaiuti.
Says the chef:
In the early 1980s, as chef de partie at a restaurant in Montecatini, Tuscany, I had the great pleasure of meeting the Torrigiani family. Maurizio Torrigiani, a culinary student was my commis, or assistant. On his first day of work, Maurizio appeared in the kitchen with his mother at his side. A sweet, dignified lady, she asked me if I would take her son under my wing, professionally and personally. I assured her that I would and before long Maurizio and I developed a wonderful working rapport and great friendship.
This kind and hospitable family often invited me to their home for fabulous Tuscan meals. They taught me firsthand about the intense culinary traditions of the area. Maurizio’s father Benedetto had two passions in life: cooking and cars. He was the only chef I’ve ever know who drove a Ferrari, which he had brought back to life, of course. Destiny came full circle: his son Valerio became a mechanic and my friend Maurizio became a chef, author, and instructor at the culinary institute in Montecatini.
Maurizio taught me to make these luscious gnudi, from the traditional Tuscan recipe. I’ve made them countless times since, and I find that everyone absolutely loves them. Grazie, Maurizio!
Note: I like to coat the gnudi in grano duro flour before cooking them because it helps maintain their shape and adds texture. However, if you cannot find it, use all-purpose flour.
1 pound whole ricotta
12 ounces cooked fresh spinach, chopped
¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup grano duro flour, if desired
4 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup (4 ounces) butter
2 stalks finely chopped fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
5 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon salt
Combine the ricotta and spinach in a medium bowl. Add the Pecorino Romano, egg yolks, nutmeg, and all-purpose flour.
Mix well to form dough. Scoop one tablespoon of dough at a time to make a small round balls, each about 1 inch in diameter.
Dust a work surface with grano duro or all-purpose flour and roll the dough balls until they are coated.
Place them on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When water boils, add salt and the dough balls and cook until they all rise to the top, or about 3 minutes.
Remove them with a mesh strainer and set aside on a plate.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the sage, thyme, and rosemary. Once melted, discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs.
To serve, sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the gnudi and spoon the butter and herb sauce on top.
Italian Cooking Primer
Gnudi, which means "nude," are also sometimes called malfatti, or "poorly made." In other parts of Italy, where they are usually served with a fresh tomato sauce. In the town of Lucca, Tuscany, there is also another version that uses squash instead of spinach.