A bowl of gnocchi or gnudi is like a jewelry box filled with clouds or tiny pillows. When made correctly, they're fluffy, ethereal, rich ricotta dumplings. You may not even know what gnudi is, let alone the difference between it and gnocchi. They're like Italian brothers — with many similarities but you can tell them apart when you know what to look for.
For one, they're pronounced similarly. The “gn” is pronounced like the “ny” in “canyon,” so it’s NYOHkee and NYOOdee. That second one sounds like nudie, as in, um, nudie bars? That makes sense because Tuscany's gnudi are like ravioli, but naked. It's basically the ricotta-herb filling minus the wrapper, with a little flour added into the ricotta so they don't fall apart. Sometimes there's spinach in there too.
Hailing from Northern Italy, gnocchi comes from the Italian word nocca, meaning "knuckle." However, every region of Italy has its own gnocchi variation, sauce, and presentation style. The most classic gnocchi version is made from grated potato. But you can use flour, bread, corn meal, semolina, ricotta (which is gnudi), chestnut flour, or vegetables — from spinach to pumpkin. You can add ricotta to the potato or semolina types of gnocchi to lighten them up. Do that. While heavenly when done right, when done wrong, gnocchi can have the texture of bubble gum or be heavy like pebbles.
Either one of these ricotta dumplings is great with the simple treatment of extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated cheese. But let's get even more creative. Try some of our ideas:
The recipe name itself is enough of a reason to choose this dish for your foray into gnocchi territory. If you're going to take the time to do this, it might as well be with a sweet, creamy, savory recipe that makes us melt just imagining it. Get our Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crème Fraîche-Sage Sauce recipe.
2. Ricotta Gnudi in Brown Butter Sage Sauce
We know the last sauce just had sage too, but that's where the similarities end. With this dish, you have maple syrup, parsley, and walnuts. And there's the fact that this is gnudi, not gnocchi. Sooo different. Get the recipe.
This is more of a fall recipe, but you could make it anytime. Adding mushrooms would work well too. The cheese is a creamy kind from Piedmont, Italy. Get our Chestnut Gnocchi with Robiola Cheese Sauce recipe.
You'll find a few tricks in this recipe to ensure your gnocchi is light and and unlead-like. There's a link for the tomato-porcini sauce too. Making the sauce takes two to three hours, so this is more of a weekend endeavor, unless your schedule is flexible. Get our Potato Gnocchi with Tomato-Porcini Sauce recipe.
5. Basil Gnudi with Summer Squash
Now this one is in season for summer, with basil and squash either in bloom or soon. The cherry tomatoes add another touch of welcome sweetness. Get the recipe.
Some people might say it's a stretch to call this gnocchi, but there it is. Gnocchi can be made from all sorts of things, so there are no rules. One of the best qualities of this version of gnocchi is its ease and speed. Speed is not something most gnocchi recipes possess. Get our Pizza Dough Gnocchi recipe.
Don't let the wild boar ingredient scare you away from making this dish. In the likely event that your grocery store doesn't have wild boar in its meat department or butchery (why ever not?!), you can order it online at Broken Arrow Ranch … or just use boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks. Get our Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu recipe.
These ricotta dumplings lean more toward the gnudi side, but there's half a cup of flour in there, so it's up for debate. Regardless, you're making some kind of Italian ricotta-spinach dumplings, so it's gonna rock. Get our Gnocchi or Gnudi recipe.