My Nude Balls
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi have become my signature dish; my proverbial milkshake that brings all of the boys to the yard, if you will.
You will because I said so.
How fleeting are their nature! For they emerge one day and disappear the next, much like Leonardo DiCaprio's girlfriends.
Pronounced "nudey", gnudi are the posh cousins to potato gnocchi, who only conjoin with their philistine bloodline on holidays or for the funerals of relatives with good costume jewelry up for grabs. I learned how to make them while studying abroad in Italy, lost the original recipe, and then adapted my own from the recipe of Giada De Laurentiis, the Food Network’s Bratz Doll.
*Nod, and then proceed here to catch up, you louse.
My balls have entered the mouths of preschool teachers who taught me how to write with this exhibited eloquence, and have found their way into my family’s stomachs on Christmas Eve before seven fishes swim on in. However, the last documented time that I fondled my spinach balls was for my friend, Lydia, who you know if you're a TRUE fan of my blog. She’s the one who cut her own hair with a pair of Fiskars, a hand mirror, and blind ambition.*
Anywho, since Lydia’s visit, I’ve refined my gnudi preparation down to an amateur science to produce firm, yet pillowy balls that glisten like Fabio when bathed in brown butter and sage sauce.
Mis balls son su balls—Take them and shove them deep into your loved ones all while thinking of me fondly.
MIA'S RICOTTA & SPINACH GNUDI BALLS
These proportions yield approximately 4-5 entree-sized portions and 6-8 appetizer portions. Please note that one of my tricks involves draining the ricotta for several hours, so come correct OR DON'T COME AT ALL.
GET THESE THINGS:
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 8 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus 1-2 cups for coating
- Cheesecloth, a mesh strainer, or cheap paper towels
THEN DO THIS:
Drain the cheese:
Option 1: Suspend cheesecloth or thin paper towels over a bowl with clothespins or a thick rubber band
Option 2: Suspend a mesh strainer over a bowl and call it a day, you environmentally friendly sonuvabitch.
Then, gently spoon your ricotta cheese over the cloth/paper towels/strainer and let it drain in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, redistributing its weight at the halfway mark.
*Note: Allot more time for skim milk ricotta cheese since it's more watery than the full fat version.
Dehydrate your spinach:
While your cheese is detoxing, heat up a large skillet over high heat. Add the thawed frozen spinach, constantly stirring. The goal here is to evaporate as much moisture from the leaves as possible. Once it starts to stick to pan, you can move it to cool in a large bowl until the remainder of your spinach supply runneth dry.
*Note: Do not leave the damn pan unattended or else you will end up with a teaspoon of spinach pot pourri.
Once the spinach and ricotta are all good, combine the two in a large bowl with your hands. Then, add the Pecorino Romano, the eggs, and egg yolks, stirring until well combined (preferably with a whisk). Finally, add the salt, pepper and 5 Tbsp flour until every ingredient has been acquainted.
Make balls, not war:
Dust a large baking sheet with your excess of flour. Form the gnudi mixture into spheres the size of golf balls (a spoon helps) and coat them in flour on the baking sheet. Don't be shy- more flour will help the balls congeal when they cook.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. GENTLY drop the gnudi into the water, working in small batches to avoid overcrowding your pot. Remove them with a slotted spoon when magically rise to the surface when they are finished cooking. (They are self-motivated.)
Cool! You have balls. Now, what do you do with them?
Well, omniscient reader, you have two options. You can salute the Italian flag by drizzling them with Steve's Sexy Marinara Sauce® OR you can take my humble, yet mandatory advice of finishing them in Brown Sage Butter sauce. In which case, prepare this before you boil your balls.
GET THESE THINGS:
- 1 stick of butter, sliced into pats
- A handful of sage leaves
- The juice of 1 lemon
THEN DO THIS:
Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until its perimeter on the edge of the pan begins to turn brown. Add your sage and stir for 1-2 minutes until its scent fills your nostrils. Remove the pan from the heat and add your lemon juice until you are ready to lubricate your balls.
What I like to do is move the gnudi directly from the pot to the pan of butter sauce with a splash of starchy water, turning them gently to coat on all sides. This helps the balls firm up and ensures that no corner goes unbuttered, despite the fact that gnudi are spheres.
Whatever you decide, serve them on a platter to your most deserved friends who agree to hold said platter and pose for a photo like this: