Main Meals

Ricotta gnudi with pomodoro sauce

30 minutes
10 minutes for the sauce, 10 minutes for the gnudi

"I first discovered gnudi in 2013 after a friend recommended a recipe featured on I have since made it too many times to count, even including it in some of my recipe demonstrations back in the day. When I make it for friends, they usually haven’t encountered it before, but they’re hooked after the first bite. It’s lighter than gnocchi and melts in your mouth. You can also serve the gnudi with any other seasonal pasta sauce of your choice, or with ripe, roasted tomatoes that have been puréed to a pulp."

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  • For the pomodoro sauce:
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 x 400 g cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes, puréed
  • 2 t sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the gnudi:
  • 450–500 g ricotta cheese
  • 1 extra-large free-range egg
  • 1 extra-large free-range egg yolk
  • ½ t salt
  • ¼ t freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 70 g cake flour, plus extra for dusting
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute – don’t let it become too brown. Add the tomatoes and sugar, season generously with salt and pepper, then simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes (you can partially cover the pan to prevent splattering). Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. To make the gnudi, mix the ricotta, egg and yolk, salt, pepper and Parmesan in a large bowl until well combined (use an electric beater). Add the flour and stir with a spatula until just combined – the mixture should form a soft ball that is still slightly wet (add a little more flour if needed).

3. Generously dust a rimmed baking tray with flour. Using 2 large tablespoons, shape heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into oval shapes (called quenelles), then place them on the floured tray and dust very lightly with more flour (you should have about 30). If you struggle to make quenelles, use one spoon to shape round gnudi in the palm of your hand.

4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the gnudi all at once if the pan is big enough (use an egg lifter to pick them up) or in batches, and cook for 4–5 minutes until cooked through (the gnudi will quickly float to the surface, but continue cooking or they will be gummy in the centre).

5. While the gnudi are cooking, get four wide bowls ready by adding a layer of hot pomodoro sauce to each bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnudi from the water and divide between the bowls. Top with another spoonful of sauce, scatter with Parmesan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Find more Italian recipes here.

Extracted with permission from Simply Seasonal: recipes inspired by nature, by Ilse van der Merwe, photography by Tasha Seccombe, Published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe by: Ilse van der Merwe

Ilse van der Merwe, a.k.a. The Food Fox, is a food writer, stylist, television host and blogger. She is the author of two books: Cape Mediterranean: The way we love to eat and Simply Seasonal: Recipes inspired by nature. Follow her on Instagram @the_foodfox.

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