Caramelized Spinach Gnudi with Browned Butter

Spinach gnudi 1

We spent the long weekend at home, puttering. Staring at gaping holes in the ceiling and barely (if at all) functioning kitchen appliances and broken windows and walls that are easier at this point to paint than to clean and making a ginormous to-do list for it all. Considering the domino effect that starting to change this and that has on a house, it seems kitchen renos are not only unavoidable, but imminent. Which of course means no kitchen for awhile. TRY NOT TO PANIC.

We got used to the idea of eating out by doing it this weekend. Since we were mostly trying to find homes for things, cleaning/organizing/yard work-ing, I didn’t cook a whole lot, but did use up a big bunch of spinach by making gnudi – sort of like larger, lighter, lumpier gnocchi – and sauteing the little dumplings in browned butter. Spring, hello.

Spinach gnudi  Collage

I love gnocchi, and it’s even fun to make, without the need to own and manipulate a a pasta machine. But more often than not – even when we do eat out – I feel afterwards as if I’ve eaten a bowl of dough lumps. They can be too dense, too heavy, too chewy. Not always, but it happens.

Gnudi are far lighter – so much so that it can seem as if they won’t hold themselves together.
(The first time I made them, they didn’t.)

Spinach gnudi 6

You shape them by scooping up a spoonful, then passing them back and forth from one spoon to another to shape in kind of pointy-ended egg shapes – yes, making quenelles – which is impossible to do without feeling all Top Cheffy about it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and need a little video on how-to quenelle, there are many online. Like this one.)

Spinach gnudi 3

You then dust them with flour, and gently, gingerly boil them. And then, like most gnocchi, they’re perfectly OK to eat as-is, with a dribble of browned butter.

Spinach gnudi 4

But if you want to go one step further – and why wouldn’t you? – you can brown them in a hot pan with browned butter, making them all toasty and caramelized on the outside. Oh yes.

Spinach gnudi 5

And if you have a teeny cast iron skillet you picked up for a few dollars at a garage sale (’tis the season!), all the better.

Spinach gnudi 2

Is there anything better than crispy bits with browned butter and cheese? I think not.

Spinach gnudi 1
Spinach gnudi 1

Spinach Gnudi with Browned Butter

Recipe link


May 20, 2013

  • Makes: Serves 4.


1 bunch (about 1 lb.) fresh spinach or chard

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. melted butter

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup butter

extra Parmesan, for serving


1Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Roughly chop the spinach, discarding any big stems, and put it into the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes, then drain in a colander and set aside to cool. Press out as much extra moisture as possible, and finely chop the pile of cooked greens on a chopping board.

2In a large bowl, gently stir together the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg and butter. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gently stir in the flour, being careful not to overwork it, and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

3Meanwhile, melt the 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Continue cooking after it melts; it will foam, then turn golden and nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a simmer.

4Use two medium spoons to shape the dough into quenelles (small tapered ovals) by scraping about half a spoonful back and forth between the spoons. Place on a floured surface and shake a little extra flour overtop. Gently drop a few gnudi at a time into the simmering water, ensuring that it doesn’t reach a rolling boil, which could break apart the delicate dumplings. Cook for a few minutes, or until they float to the top; at this point you can remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

5Serve the gnudi immediately, drizzled with browned butter, with extra Parmesan cheese passed at the table.

Makes: Serves 4.

About Julie

10 comments on “Caramelized Spinach Gnudi with Browned Butter

  1. Kathy
    May 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

    As someone who’s survived a kitchen reno, depending on the level of renovation needed of course, it’s possible to still eat at home. Then again, we didn’t do a total gut and the stove and sink were going to stay in their original location, so the cupboard the sink was attached to stayed (until the new cupboards were installed) & we nailed plywood down on the top. That said, we didn’t exactly do gourmet meals either. We did do Dashing Dishes however to help.

    How will you accommodate the cooking you need to do for your livelihood – rent space?

    Best of luck, it’s stressful to do a big reno like that.

    Also, I don’t make my living cooking.

  2. Great tutorial on gnudi. I have survived two kitchen renos. Much easier for me because I am only one person. First time I filled my freezer with single servings of all sorts of mains and sides then microwaved and could mix and match. Worked ok but I grew a little tired of it after 2 months. It’s time to cash all those IOU’s on dinner invitations!

  3. Sue.D
    May 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

    The Gnudi look gorgeous – I’ve got some frozen baby spinach that have just been earmarked!

    I don’t think browned butter with cheese elements and green things can ever lead you astray!

  4. Ada Cloete
    May 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Love ur book and use it on our farm in the Tankwa Karoo, South Africa. Specially for our farm workers!!!!!!!! Wish u could see them enjoying it. I make a pot for 50 people every Sat en when we have day workers theres a pot every day for as long as they busy with the job!!!!! Most of the people are HIV pos and some are so sick. Eating bean dishes help them to cope with physical work. They plant onion plants or bulbs for seed.

    Kind regards


  5. Anonymous
    May 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Julie, you may use my kitchen for as long as it takes!!

  6. Jess
    May 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Julie – hang in, renovations take so much patience. In the meantime, glad you have this eye candy for us! You’re right that there’s nothing like browned butter and cheese – soothes the soul. 😉

  7. Fiona
    May 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Good luck with your kitchen renos! I can tell you it’s amazing when they’re finished. You’re welcome to come try out my cooktop and wall oven, anytime!

    (Does eating gnudi make you a gnudist?)

  8. Charmian - The Messy Baker
    May 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Oh, having survived a kitchen reno myself, I feel your pain! This gnudi looks amazingly good — how could it not with spinach, cheese and browned butter. Love that it can be done in a pan and without much fanfare.

    Stay sane and enjoy the reno ride. I know you’ll be thrilled with the results.

  9. Fareen
    May 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    This looks so good, I can’t wait to make it!

  10. Poe
    December 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I made this recipe today. I am so glad I found it because I made a veggie lasagna last week and had a lot of ricotta left. I made these gnudi things (I have never heard of them) and they were so good! The only thing I did differently was added garlic. I boiled 4 of them but one started falling apart, so I panicked and lightly fried the rest of the batch in olive oil and some butter. I probably could have boiled the rest, but I didn’t want to ruin it. Anyway, it was a nice find! Thanks!

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