• ‘Gnudi’ means naked in Italian – these vegetarian dumplings are gnocchi without the potato and made with ricotta instead. Complemented by the sweet red pepper and tomato sauce, they’re utterly delicious.

    Recipe any styling by Illanique van Aswegen

    Photograph by Adel Ferreira

    Basil, spinach and ricotta gnudi with red pepper and tomato sugo

    Serves: 4
    Cooking Time: 2 hrs



    • 400g baby spinach, washed
    • 20g fresh basil leaves
    • 530g ricotta
    • handful Gruyère, finely grated + extra, to serve
    • 30ml (2 tbsp) basil pesto
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 45g cake flour + extra, to dust
    • 5ml (1 tsp) nutmeg, finely grated
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 30g butter

    • 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
    • 1 (about 160g) large onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 30ml (2 tbsp) garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 (about 320g) red peppers, diced
    • 8 (about 700g) medium tomatoes, chopped
    • 45ml (3 tbsp) tomato paste
    • 30ml (2 tbsp) brown sugar
    • 15ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
    • 12 large fresh basil leaves + extra, to garnish



    For the gnudi, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the spinach and basil leaves for 20 seconds. Refresh in cold water, then squeeze out all of the water. Purée the leaves in a food processor until fine. Stir in the ricotta, Gruyère, pesto, eggs, egg yolks, cake flour and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


    Scoop out tablespoon-portions of the mixture and use your hands to roll them into balls. Dust in extra flour and place them on a tray or plate. Cover with cling film and refrigerate to firm up, 40 minutes – 1 hour.


    Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle simmer. Cook the gnudi off in 2 or 3 batches until firm, but still tender inside, 8 – 10 minutes for each batch. Place on a clean, dry tea towel to remove most of the moisture.


    Heat a pan over medium heat until hot. Add the butter and fry off the gnudi in 3 batches, about 2 minutes for each batch. Gently shake the pan every now and then to move the balls around, making sure they brown evenly.


    For the sugo, heat a pot over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and onion and fry until slightly tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook gently, 30 minutes. Place in a food processor together with the basil leaves and purée until fine, but with a little bit of a texture. Remove half of the mixture and purée the remaining sauce until smooth. Stir in the sauce that you removed and season to taste.


    Serve the gnudi on top of the sauce and add lots of grated Gruyère. Scatter some basil leaves on top just before serving.


    Just like regular gnocchi, gnudi will float to the top when simmered in water. This is an indication that they are cooked and ready to be removed. You could go for a slightly different flavour profile and replace the spinach with kale or regular Swiss chard if you are unable to find baby spinach.

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com