Food & Drink

Russell Norman’s spinach and ricotta dumplings recipe

“Gnudi translates as ‘naked’, as these little dumplings are the most nude and simple form of homemade pasta you can make,” says Russell Norman, author of new Florence-inspired cookbook, Brutto.

“The combination of spinach and ricotta is a very traditional marriage and appears in much of the pasta of the region, in ravioli and crespelle for example. It’s a very satisfying process, and easy enough for children to help with in the kitchen if you want to encourage an early interest in Italian cooking for little chefs.”

Spinach and ricotta dumplings


(Serves 4)

500g baby spinach leaves, washed

50g ‘00’ flour

250g ricotta

1 large free-range egg, beaten

150g grated Parmesan

Flaky sea salt

Black pepper

½tsp freshly grated nutmeg

250g semolina

100g butter

A large handful of sage leaves


1. Steam the spinach for three minutes over a large pan of boiling water. Thoroughly drain and squeeze to remove the excess water, then chop the leaves finely. Set aside.

2. Mix the flour with the ricotta in a large bowl until it resembles lumpy breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg and two-thirds of the Parmesan. Add a pinch of salt, a twist of black pepper, the nutmeg and then add the spinach. Combine thoroughly with a wooden spoon or with your hands.

3. Put half the semolina into a bowl and shake the rest on to a baking sheet or a tray. Take small lumps of the flour, egg and spinach mixture and form them into small balls by rolling them between your palms, to the size of large olives. Turn each ball through the bowl of semolina, then place on the tray you’ve prepared with the rest of the semolina. When finished, you should have 24–30 little balls.

4. Fill a very large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Place the gnudi in the boiling water as quickly as possible, bringing it back to the boil on the highest heat, and continue to simmer for about three minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and add the sage leaves. When it bubbles, reduce to a very low heat. This should take no more than two minutes, while the gnudi are cooking.

6. The gnudi will float to the surface when they are ready. Turn off the heat, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain the excess water on kitchen paper. Place on four warmed plates, pour the butter and sage over the top, then evenly distribute the remaining Parmesan. Add a flourish of black pepper.

Brutto (Ebury Press/PA)

Brutto by Russell Norman is published by Ebury Press, priced £32. Photography by Jenny Zarins. Available now.