• Chef Recipes

Ricotta Gnudi and Odd Fellow Marinara: A Recipe by Chef Barbara Lynch

Photo Credit: Michael Prince
By Barbara Lynch · 06/09/2020

From Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Serves 8

If you took the pasta off traditional ravioli, the cheese filling would be naked, right? Ricotta gnudi (NOO-dee) is little more than ricotta cheese formed into tiny dumplings that simmer to an ethereal lightness. Since this “pasta” is all about the ricotta, use the best quality you can find (or make it yourself; recipe follows). I like to serve these delicate dumplings with my Odd Fellow Marinara (recipe also follows), a butter-sage sauce, or The Butcher Shop Bolognese. You can give them grooves as directed or leave them plain.

1 pound fresh ricotta, drained if very wet (recipe follows)
¾ cup to 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

► In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 3/4 cup of the flour, the egg, cheese, salt, and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to mix ingredients together well.
► Lightly flour your work surface and a baking sheet for holding the shaped gnudi. With floured hands knead the ricotta mixture briefly; it will be quite wet and sticky at this point. Dump the mixture out onto your work surface.
► Cut off a piece of the gnudi dough and try rolling it into a 3/4-inch thick log. If you can’t get it to roll, add a little more flour to the dough and try again. You want as little flour as possible to keep these together so the resulting gnudi will be light and ethereal. Cut the log into 1-inch pieces and then into little balls.
► If you have a gnocchi board, hold it at a 45-degree angle over your floured baking sheet and roll each ball down the length of it to give the gnudi grooves. As the gnudi nears the end of the board, let it drop onto the baking sheet. If you don’t have a gnocchi board, hold a fork, tines facing down, and roll the ball down the length of the tines. Repeat until all of the dough is rolled and cut. Freeze the gnudi, about 1 hour. (Because they are so soft, they are much easier to handle so do this even if you plan to use them soon.)
► To serve, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a gentle boil. In batches, drop the gnudi into the water and cook until they float, about 1 to 2 minutes. As each batch cooks, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them warm or transfer them directly to the sauce they are being served with. Serve with Odd Fellow Marinara.

Easy Homemade Ricotta
Yields 2 cups

Aside from the milk, vinegar, and salt, you’ll need some cheesecloth and a cooking thermometer (both of which you can find at most supermarkets). Then it’s just a matter of heating, stirring, and straining.

1 gallon whole milk
¾ cup white distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

► Line a footed colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and set it in a clean sink.
► In a large saucepan, combine the ingredients over low heat. Clip the thermometer to the pot and, while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, bring the mixture 140°F, about 10 minutes. Stop stirring and allow the mixture to reach 180°F, which will take another 8 to 10 minutes. Stay close by; it’s important not to let the mixture boil or the cheese will be overcooked.
► As soon as the mixture hits 180°F, remove it from heat, and gently ladle the separated curds out of the saucepan and into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Allow curds to drain until the correct consistency is obtained, about 1 hour.
► Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate if not using immediately. The ricotta will keep for a week, covered and refrigerated. 

Odd Fellow Marinara
Yields about 4 cups

The name of this sauce, a play on the mafioso “good fellow,” pays homage to the historic name of the building across the street from one of my restaurants, the Odd Fellows building which now houses the Boston Center for the Arts. When I have lots of local, ripe tomatoes, which is only for about one month in the summer, I start with fresh tomatoes for this sauce; otherwise I use good canned tomatoes or, in the case of Pomì brand tomatoes, which I like, boxed ones. I love this sauce over Ricotta Gnudi.

1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, peeled and chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper

► Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just tender but not colored, about 8 minutes.
► Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for a few minutes until it’s reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes with their juices and ½ teaspoon salt.
► Simmer for about 20 minutes, stir in basil, and season with a few grinds of pepper and additional salt and red pepper flakes if needed.

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