7 January 2010

A Recipe for Gnudi or "Naked Ravioli" for Presto Pasta Nights

A Recipe for Gnudi or "Naked Ravioli"

Pasta is simply the Italian word for dough. Originally, pasta in Italy began with growing the highest-quality hard wheat, and the name given to this specific type of wheat was "durum" which in Latin means hard. Italian pasta has been enjoyed for centuries, with old and new recipes being prepared and created. Sailors packed pasta as a staple for long voyages due to its incredibly long shelf life. Today Italian restaurants and home cooks world wide make millions of pasta dishes each year.If you want to enjoy cooking and eating pasta at its best, one way is to buy good-quality dried pasta made with durum or semolina . Once you taste quality dried pasta, it will be very hard for you to return to the industrially produced alternatives. It’s not just for flavour, but the firm, rough texture puts it way out in front and actually helps you to achieve that al dente ‘firm to the teeth’ texture that is the mark of well-cooked pasta. Poor quality often ends up sticky and soggy.  If you would like you can read this very interesting article about the history of pasta.


The most common misconception is that pasta is a very fattening food. Fortunately, in the last decade or so, the misconception that pasta is fattening  has been corrected by many nutrition experts, through their interest and research into the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In most parts of Italy, obesity is relatively rare, though a "low-carb diet" is unheard of. Italians do eat a lot of carbs, but they are happy, healthy individuals. And it is also worth mentioning that they consume carbs balanced with proteins and fats. In Italy, pasta is usually eaten as primo piatto (first course), meaning the main course, which is usually a healthy fish dish or a lean meat, has yet to come.

 It is the sauce that you put on the pasta that adds the calories to the meal. If you want to eat pasta but keep your calorie count low, you could eat whole-wheat pasta topped with a low calorie sauce. Reasonable portions of pasta dishes made with lean meat, fresh vegetables or fish sauces are not fattening at all. Eating huge portions of pasta with rich sauces every day is not recommended, of course  but even those must be enjoyed once in a while! Never has my philosphy of "everything in moderation" rung more true when it comes to pasta!!!! Following that dictum, you could eat pasta every day of the week!!!!!!

Whole-wheat pasta is not only higher in natural nutrients but it also contains more fiber. In addition, whole-wheat pastas tend to have a lower glycemic index. What this means is that it will not raise your insulin level. This is very important if you are a diabetic or attempting to lose weight. Though people have grown accustomed to the mellow taste and texture of refined pasta, whole-wheat pasta is higher in protein, and tends to be more filling, so you do eat less. It becomes lighter as it cooks and can be quite delicious when served with flavorful sauces.
 
Sauces are meant to coat the pasta and not to drown them. The sophistication found in Italian cuisine lies in the simplicity of the method using a couple of cleverly combined ingredients and herbs that compliment the pasta and not over power them.  So be light on the sauce, use whole wheat pasta when possible and eat a balanced diet and all will be well with the world.



I am sending this dish over to Presto Pasta Nights which is the invention of the lovely, talented and fellow Canadian Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast - Every Kitchen Tells It's Stories. I can hardly believe that this is week #145 of PPN!!! What an excellent way to start the new decade.

My dish this week is not really pasta at all (although it can be served on top of pasta as I did here) but it has a pasta name.... "Naked Ravioli" . Therefore I thought it would still work within the parameters of Ruth's event. Malfatti or Gnudi is a traditional Tuscan dish. It’s basically ravioli without dough called “gnudi” which in Tuscany means “naked” or also “malfatti” meaning “not well made". This dish gets its name from the fact that it is really the filling of the ravioli without the pasta.  Often, gnudi are served without any pasta at all, as a starter but they can also be served on pasta, either with a light tomato sauce or with butter, sage and Parmesan.

 This recipe comes from Canadian chef  David Rocco from his cookbook "David Rocco's Dolce Vita". I really enjoy this method because he bakes his gnudi in the oven. This is a godsend since in the past I have not had much success where recipes call for boiling the gnudi. This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever make and these will literally melt in your mouth!!!!



**Malfatti or Gnudi (Naked Ravioli)**
a recipe by David Rocco

1 lb (500 g) fresh ricotta cheese, preferably sheep's milk, drained
1 large bunch raw spinach, chopped
5 tablespoons (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for smearing hands
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt to taste
4 tablespoons (60 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
all-purpose flour
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 - 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Place your drained ricotta in a mixing bowl. Chop your spinach and saute it with some olive oil and garlic. Let it cool down, then add it to the ricotta. ( I used frozen spinach so squeezed it dry first. I am not sure if this is necessary for the outcome of the dish but I always prefer it). Add 2 pinches of salt, a good handful of Parmigiano, or more spinach. (Make it your own and what is right for you!!!) David says, " if the texture seems a bit liquid to you, add a pinch of flour, but not too much. You just want to bind the mixture. The texture should be fliffy and delicate, not heavy".

Pour a bit of olive oil on your hands and rub them together. (As David says this will prevent the gnudi mixture from sticking to your hands, and the bonus is that your hands get a nice spa tretament at the same time!!!) Now take a bit of the mixture and roll it in your hands to make little balls about the size of golf balls. Use all of the filling.

For the tomato sauce cut up the cherry tomatoes. Heat some olive oil and garlic in a pan, throw in the tomatoes along with some salt and cook for a few minutes until they get soft.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce in a baking dish. Lay the gnudi on top, then spoon some more of the sauce on top. Sprinkle some Parmigiano on top of each gnudi ball. Toss the basil on top. Bake in a 350 - 400F (180 - 200C) oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until golden.

Serves 4

You can also serve this with pasta for a different treat!!!
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips

40 comments:

  1. Moderation is key. Some of us do better exercising that fact than others. :) Neither one of us does it very well! The colors in this dish look great though. Very vibrant and warm.

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  2. That looks simply sensational...wow! The color in the dead of winter is just lovely.

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  3. Val - I love this! You taught this Italian lady something. I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks - or should I say grazie!

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  4. I love gnudi Val, and I love that it's baked. Definitely making this!

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  5. I loved reading your pasta facts! This looks like such a fantastic dish!

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  6. This looks great. I have had Gnudi but never really new the back story. thanks.

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  7. A scrumptious dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. So delicious Val! I love it- we always eat ww pasta these days- it is more filling and I think more delicious- once you try it a few times you start to crave it.
    Happy New Year!
    xo

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  9. Great post,and very cool looking dish...especially since I'm trying to do a South Beach Diet refresh -

    And thanks for sharing it with Presto Pasta Nights.

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  10. You don't have to defend pasta to me. I've never lost my pasta loyalty. It's good stuff!

    I made gnudi like this a few weeks ago. They're delicious and easy. Definitely a big hit in my household.

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  11. Even better than dried pasta is picking up fresh pasta!! Or even making your own. I am so spoiled.

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  12. This looks great! It is true, there is a lot of eating of pasta that takes place in Italy! :)

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  13. This looks very appealing and sounds healthy and delicious. Thanks for the encouragement to use more whole wheat pasta! I'll keep looking for a brand I like.

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  14. Oooh, I know this is one that I'd love!

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  15. Wow! Gonna make this asap!

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  16. I like the sound of doing 'ravioli' like this. It looks really good!

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  17. Delish! I just picked up this book too. Love David Rocco, such a cutie too!
    I have never made gnuddi before, sounds delicious!

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  18. This look wonderful Vall, really love this type of dish,absolutely nice, gloria

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  19. I love this pasta dish! Thanks so much for dispelling all of those rumors about pasta. It can be one of the healthiest things out there if prepared the right way!

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  20. Oh my - this looks incredible. I knoq I would love it. Do you think there are any rules about how much pasta a person can eat at one sitting?

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  21. nice informative article on pasta. It looks great too!

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  22. I love this Val! What a great idea, it looks delish.

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  23. tomatoes, cheese, spinach, and basil--this has all the makings of a legitimate and delightful italian meal. it's new to me, but i'd like to meet it in person immediately. :)

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  24. I have recently put gnudi high on my list of new dishes to learn to fix, so I am VERY excited about your recipe!! Thank you so much!

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  25. Such a nice idea to make these ricotta balls!!!!! I bet the guys would love it down here!!

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  26. Like flourless spinach gnocchi! I lofe the idea of baking it, too. This will be a great first course!
    I love the whole wheat pasta... mon mari doesn't. But, as I do the shopping and the cooking and know what's good for him....

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  27. Fortunately, for those for whom carbs and not calories are the issue, there are some good low-carb pastas on the market now. My favorite is Dreamfields, which has all of the taste and texture of regular pasta, with a very low effective carb yield.

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  28. Can I just say the name of this dish is certainly attention garnering---I read the title and immediately thought of Jamie Oliver (the Naked Chef) so it definitely had a good connotation! ;)

    What I love best though, was how the meatless ingredients come together to form a meatball-like appearance---great for those of use who don't care for meat in every meal, but still want to please (or should I say convince) the meat lovers in our family. Bookmarked to try!

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  29. This is a really interesting recipe Val. I haven't heard of this before. It looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I feel I am leaving with a bit more knowledge than I came with. Fab post :)

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  30. I have never heard of gnudi but goodness it sounds delicious. I love the whole idea of it. Great recipe.

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  31. A very interesting post, Val. I've never heard of gnudi and look forward to trying it.

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  32. Perfect dish! Pasta with ricotta. Yummm!

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  33. Food being naked - now that's something to love!

    Happy New Year dearest.

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  34. Oh, my - you're making me all drooly just thinking about these gnudi. Haven't made any in forever -- but it's about time for more!

    It's also great to see someone defending pasta in this age of low-carb/no-carb. Thanks for standing up for the noodle!

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  35. This is just perfect for a nice dinner,Bookmarked!

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  36. This is a fab meatless dish and very colourful. I'm with you on emphasizing not to drown the pasta.

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  37. Love ricotta and spinach together. I have been loving the pasta lately also, must be this cold weather we have in Ontario.

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  38. Wow! This looks beautiful. I sure wish they served it at a restaurant near me (easier than me actually making it).

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  39. I just borrowed Rocco's book, His version of la dolce vita...not too shabby. I wouldn't mind getting a little more to simple living and always being abale to count on freshness. I want to thank you Valli for having tried these gnudi. I personally never have had the chance to make them. I am soon hoping to try them out myself.
    I do love the fact that they can be baked. My only curiousity is why he calls these raviolis?
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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