Home » Main Course » Spinach Ricotta Dumplings (Gnudi) with Sage Butter

PREP : 30 MIN | COOK : 30 MIN| TOTAL : 1H | SERVE : 6

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A not so well-known Tuscan delicacy, Gnudi are delicious spinach ricotta dumplings. They are soft and light on the inside and golden and cripsy on the outside. Fried in a sage butter and sprinkled with Parmesan shavings, they are the perfect match for Tuscan wines such as Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino. A must-try pairing!

Fried spinach ricotta dumplings with sage and butter

A few details about the recipe

“Nude” or “Naked” is the translation of the Italian word “Gnudi”. They can also be called “Malfatti” i.e. “badly shaped”.

These delicious ricotta and spinach dumplings from Tuscany derive from tortelli pasta that are traditionally stuffed with a spinach and ricotta filling.

With Gnudi, Tuscans got rid of the pasta dough to create flavourful ricotta and spinach dumplings directly dipped into boiling water.

Gnudi are usually served with sage and butter sauce, “buro et salvia”, the version I chose for this recipe. But they are equally delicious enjoyed with fresh tomato sauce!

Boiled spinach ricotta dumplings on a plate

Sage leaves fried in brown butter

What to serve this with?

These Gnudi are delicious as is. For a heartier summer meal with friends and family I recommend serving Panzanella (Toscan Summer Salad) as a starter, followed by Gnudi!

🍷Wine Pairing for Spinach Ricotta Dumplings (Gnudi)

The Match

Tuscan wines (made of Sangiovese grapes)!

Gnudi are a match made in heaven with Tuscan Sangiovese based wines. Sangiovese made wines with a strong structure, that can sometimes be described as “bloody” or “iron-y”. A great match with crucifers like spinach or kale that are rich in iron and herbaceous aromas.


Monte Bernardi, Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy)
Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany, Italy)


How long does this keep?

The Parmigiana can be kept for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.

Can I freeze Spinach Ricotta Dumplings?

Yes, it can be frozen and stored for up to one month in the freezer.

Other delicious Italian inspired recipes


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Spinach ricotta dumplings fried in sage butter

Gnudi (Spinach Ricotta Dumplings) with Sage and Butter

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x



For the Gnudi

14 ounces (400 g) of fresh spinach

2 tablespoons (30 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 and ½ cups (400 g) of Ricotta cheese

2 free-range eggs

1 cup (100 g) of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (plus extra, shaved, to serve)

½ cup (60 g) of all-purpose flour

½  teaspoon of sea salt

⅛ teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper

For the Sage Butter

4 tablespoons (60 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons (50 g) of unsalted butter

24 fresh sage leaves

¼ teaspoon of sea salt 


Making the Gnudi dough

  1. Start by thoroughly rinsing the spinach under cold water. Then, in a wok or a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Transfer the rinsed spinach to the wok (no need to spin-dry or pat dry, add it wet), along with the crushed garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the cooked spinach to a fine mesh strainer or a sieve. Remove the excess water by applying a strong pressure on the cooked spinach with a spatula. Try to remove as much water as you can (it will be easier to shape the gnudi).
  4. Roughly chop the cooked spinach and add them to a mixing bowl.
  5. Add the ricotta, eggs, flour, grated parmesan, salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  6. Using a wooden spoon (or the flat beater tool if using a KitchenAid stand mixer), mix the ingredient until well combined.
  7. The resulting mixture is very soft, this is normal!

Boiling the Gnudi

  1. Boil a large pot of well-salted water.
  2. Using your hands, gently form a soft ball of dough (around 1,5 inches / 4cm large) and immediately deep it into the boiling water. The dough will bind together as soon as it enters in contact with the boiling water. Repeat the operation to fill the pot with gnudi (try not to overcrowd the pot). You will need to make several cooking batches.
  3. When the gnudi come floating back to the surface, cook them for another 2 minutes.
  4. Using a skimming ladle, strain them out of the pot and transfer them onto a plate.
  5. Repeat the process until all the gnudi are cooked.

Frying the Gnudi and making the Sage Butter

  1. You will need to fry the Gnudi in two different batches. Ideally, use two non-stick frying pans at the same time to serve the Gnudi hot. It is important not to overcrowd the pan, to allow for an optimum result.
  2. In each large non-stick frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons (45 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons (25 g) of unsalted butter over high heat.
  3. Add the half of the gnudi in each pan, season with salt and pan fry them until golden. Stir from time to time to ensure that they are evenly golden. Frying the gnudi takes time, it is normal as the gnudi are quite large. Make sure to wait for a beautiful golden color before removing them to the pan.
  4. When they are golden, add 12 sage leaves per pan and cook for 1-2 minute, until the sage is golden and crispy.
  5. Plate immediately. Drizzle some extra butter sauce on top, along with crispy sage leaves and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy with a glass of Chianti Classico!

Nim Keys

  1. I really recommend using a non-stick frying pan for pan frying the Gnudi. It might overwise stick to the bottom of the pan and fall apart. 
  2. A common version of Gnudi in Tuscany is made with Cavalo Nero, a local variety of cabbage. It is super delicious too! Feel free to switch spinach with Cavalo Nero, Swiss Chards or Kale.
  3. Thoroughly straining the excess water out of the spinach will prevent the Gnudi dough from being too wet and runny.
  4. Sage and butter sauce is called “Buro et Salvia” in Italian. It is a delicious, easy, quick, and super versatile sauce that can accompany gnocchi or short pasta such as Penne, Conchiglie, or stuffed pasta such as Tortellini or Agnolotti.
  • Author: Ninon
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: gnudi, spinach ricotta dumplings, sage butter

spinach ricotta dumplings fried in brown butter with sage leaves

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