One of the best things about Tuscany is the food – local, fresh, simple and full of flavour. We have planted a large vegetable garden (un orto), which provides us with fresh vegetables all year round, but is coming into its own in the Spring. We are pleased to share our recipes with you for the Tuscan fare that we prepare with ingredients from our garden.
GNUDI DI RICOTTA FRESCA & SPINACI
This dish captures the essence of spring in Tuscany. It is light and vegetarian. Works as a first course or is perfect for lunch accompanied by a fresh salad.
Sometimes known as ‘malfatti’ (literally translated as badly made), gnudi are light dumplings, insanely more-ish and easy to make. We use spinach but you can replace with swiss chard. In Tuscany we use fresh ricotta at this time of the year, which is a sheep’s cheese. It would also work with either cow or buffalo ricotta depending on what you can find.
For 8 people
1 kg spinach leaves
500g fresh sheep’s Ricotta
4 large free-range organic eggs
¼ of a freshly grated nutmeg
50g Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp Tipo ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
200g fine semolina flour
250g unsalted butter, softened
A good glug of Montecalvi Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A small bunch of fresh sage leaves
Cut the stalks from the spinach and wash carefully. Place the damp leaves in a pan over a low heat and allow to wilt, stirring all the time. Drain, squeezing every bit of water out. Chop finely and let cool. Beat the ricotta with a fork and add the chopped spinach. Add the eggs, nutmeg and Parmesan and season. Fold in the flour and dust a tray with more flour.
Take a wine glass and dust it with semolina flour. Put a dessertspoon of the ricotta/spinach mixture into the glass and swill it around until a shape is formed. The gnudi must be well coated with the semolina. Place them on the floured tray. Heat a serving dish adding a knob of butter. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the gnudi in batches and cook until they float. This will take about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the warmed dish. Keep warm while you cook the rest. Slowly melt the remaining butter and the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a thick-bottomed pan over a low heat; add the sage leaves and just let them wilt and blend. Serve the gnudi with the sage butter/oil and Parmesan.
We recommend this dish with a glass of Montecalvi Chianti Classico 2016. (If this combination doesn’t transport you to Italy, nothing will.)
Recommended wine: Montecalvi Chianti Classico 2016