by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
‘Naked’ because the ravioli is made only with the filling of the stuffed pasta. Technically, they are not 'real' ravioli because there is no pasta dough to contain the filling.
This recipe comes from the wild part of central Italy called Maremma—a place where the sea meets the woods and horses run free in the bushes and sheep are grazing on fresh tender spring greens—there they call this dish "gli gnudi," ("the naked ones").
In Maremma, they make the dish with fresh, local products—like the delicious, fresh sheep ricotta. The “gnudi” are made with local variations in every part of Tuscany. It is a peasant dish, very easy to make, and so yummy. Children adore the texture and the flavor, and this dish makes the perfect trick to let them eat fresh spinach!
Sometimes it is not so easy to find the fresh sheep ricotta and fresh spinach called for in this recipe. You can use regular cow ricotta and frozen spinach instead. The result is very good, too!
In Florence, the sauce varies from the original recipe. Ever since the New World was discovered (and the tomato was imported to Europe from America by Columbus), the Florentines have always added a dollop of tomato sauce on top. If you want to try the authentic Florentine recipe, make a regular pasta sauce detailed below, called "pomorola."
Naked ravioli is a kind of “primo piatto” ("first course") very common in Tuscany houses. In the past, you could not find it in restaurants. Nowadays, with the rediscovery of authentic Italian traditions, there are many “trattorie”( a kind of traditional restaurant without printed menu and a more homey, casual style) that serve the ravioli nudi.
Try this easy recipe at home and surprise your guests with the delicate flavor of an authentic Tuscan comfort food!
Ravioli Nudi (Naked Ravioli)
2 cups spinach 2 eggs Dash of nutmeg 3 tablespoons flour
2 cups (apprx. 300 grams) ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Sauce: 1 cup butter Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°
Cook spinach in very little water for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out all excess water. Finely chop the spinach and place in a large bowl. Add ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, nutmeg, and flour. Season with salt and pepper.
(* You can also use a food processor to combine the ingredients. )
Roll the mixture onto floured board and form into little balls.
Boil the "gnudi" in salted water until they rise to the surface. Then, place them in a heatproof casserole dish.
Lightly sauté sage in butter, adding a pinch of salt and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Pour over ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 5 minutes.
Saute a clove of garlic in a glug of extra virgin olive oil.
If you don't have fresh tomatoes on hand, add a can of tomatoes.
Add a dash of salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
Cook the “gnudi” and the butter/sage sauce as per the directions above.
Top the dish with a dollop of the pomarola sauce.
Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.