This recipe is a little different from how I’ve made nudi in the past since these are formed into balls about the size of a chestnut. I remember making slightly larger dumplings. Also, here, they’re boiled rather than being baked in a sauce. The smaller size meant it was easier for them to cook through without spending too much time being jostled about in the boiling water. And, they’re daintier looking on the plate. The recipe in the book suggests using a mix of Swiss chard and spinach, but I went with what I could find at the farmers’ market which was chard and arugula. The tomato sauce on top could have been made from fresh tomatoes or canned. I didn’t have quite enough fresh tomatoes on hand, so I went the canned route. You could use canned diced tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes as I did. I think I saw Ina Garten chop canned whole tomatoes by snipping them, in the can, with kitchen shears. That’s what I did, and then the chopped tomatoes went into the saucepan with olive oil and garlic. The sauce simmered away while the nudi were rolled and cooked. The garnish is just a quick shaving of a block of good parmigiano reggiano with a vegetable peeler.
Making nudi is simpler than filling ravioli, but you still get all the great flavors of the mix of cheeses and greens. The little dumplings plump up as they cook and end up fluffy and delicious with the simple tomato sauce. I’m glad to have been reminded about this dish and to learn about several new ones too.
Swiss Chard and Arugula Ravioli Nudi in Simple Tomato Sauce
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.
Tender and delicate, these nudi—essentially, ravioli without the pasta covering—make an elegant first course for an early spring or fall dinner, dressed with a simple tomato sauce. They are also delicious served in soup; just boil the nudi as directed, then ladle hot vegetable or chicken broth over them and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese. For some reason, maybe because of their fluffy texture and gentle flavor, these nudi are a hit with children—no cajoling or bribing necessary.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 LB/455 G SWISS CHARD, STEMS REMOVED AND RESERVED FOR ANOTHER USE (SEE COOK’S NOTE), LEAVES SHREDDED
8 OZ/225 G FRESH SPINACH LEAVES
12 OZ/340 G FRESH SHEEP’S MILK OR WELL-DRAINED COW’S MILK RICOTTA CHEESE
FINE SEA SALT
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
PINCH OF FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG
3⁄4 CUP/85 G FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE, PLUS MORE FOR SERVING
2 LARGE EGG YOLKS, LIGHTLY BEATEN
1⁄4 CUP/30 G FLOUR, PLUS MORE FOR COATING THE NUDI
3 CUPS/720 G FRESH TOMATO SAUCE, SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE, OR SMALL-BATCH TOMATO SAUCE, HEATED TO A SIMMER
Rinse the shredded chard leaves in cold water. Place the leaves, with the water still clinging to them, into a large saucepan, cover, and set the pan over medium heat. Cook the chard, tossing it from time to time, for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat, and using tongs, transfer the chard to a colander and let it cool. Rinse out the saucepan and return it to the stove.
Rinse the spinach leaves in cold water. Place the leaves, with the water still clinging to them, into the saucepan, cover, and set the pan over medium heat. Cook the spinach, tossing it from time to time with tongs, for 5 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat and transfer to the colander with the chard to cool.
When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze as much excess water from them as you can. Transfer them to a cutting board and chop finely. You should end up with about 1 packed cup of freshly chopped greens weighing between 7 and 8 oz/200 and 225 g.
Place the greens in a large bowl and add the ricotta, 1⁄2 tsp salt, a generous grinding of pepper, the nutmeg, the Parmigiano, and the egg yolks. Mix together gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle in the flour, and gently fold it into the mixture.
Pour some flour into a small shallow bowl. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with waxed paper or dusted with flour. With your hands, pinch off a piece of the greens mixture, form it into a ball about the size of a chestnut, roll it in the flour, and set it on the baking sheet. Continue to form the nudi until you have used all of the greens mixture.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. Carefully drop in 8 to 10 nudi. Within 1 or 2 minutes, they will begin to float to the surface. Continue to cook the nudi for another 5 to 6 minutes, until they have floated to the surface and are puffed up. With a large skimmer, remove the nudi and transfer them to a warmed serving bowl. Spoon about 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the nudi and mix very gently. Continue to cook the nudi until you have cooked them all. When they have all been added to the serving bowl, spoon additional sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Serve immediately.
COOK’S NOTE: I love chard stems, so if the chard I purchase has tough stems, rather than discard them I slice them crosswise, sauté the pieces in a little olive oil until they are softened, and then stir them into the tomato sauce.
Simple Tomato Sauce
Makes about 5 cups / 1.2 L
Even though I preserve batches of tomato sauce to use through winter, I still rely on sauce made from good canned tomatoes from time to time. Using excellent-quality canned tomatoes and good olive oil is important to the integrity of this simple, everyday sauce. Look for canned diced tomatoes packed in their natural juice rather than in heavy, pasty puree.
2 GARLIC CLOVES, LIGHTLY CRUSHED
1⁄4 CUP/60 ML EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
TWO 28-OZ/800-G CANS DICED TOMATOES, WITH THEIR JUICE
FINE SEA SALT
5 LARGE FRESH BASIL LEAVES, SHREDDED OR TORN
Warm the garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to press down on the garlic to release its flavor. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic begins to sizzle. Don’t let it brown. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and their juice (the oil will spatter) and stir to coat with the oil. Season with 1 tsp salt and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is pooling on the surface.
Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Taste and add more salt if you like. If not using immediately, transfer the sauce to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.