Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli

chard and spinach gnudi

This recipe was adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s “Swiss Chard and Spinach Ravioli Nudi”, part of her great cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, entirely dedicated to the prominent role of vegetables in Italian food.

I chose this recipe because I wanted to recreate the gnudi I tasted in a restaurant in Florence during a recent Italian trip, which also happen to have been the first gnudi I ever tasted! Florence is a mere 300 kilometres from my hometown, but regional specialties often remain confined to their native areas.

As pointed out by Domenica, “nudi” (or “gnudi” in Tuscan dialect) means naked. This is because essentially they are “naked” ravioli, i.e. ravioli filling without the pasta wrapper. The use of ricotta makes them light and fluffy, unlike potato gnocchi, which are much denser. It’s important to note that gnudi are used in first courses instead of pasta or gnocchi, they’re not meant to be served with pasta like some kind of vegetarian meatballs!

Gnudi can be prepared in several different ways. The version chosen by Domenica (and which I recreated) sees the addition of spinach and chard (“bietola” in Italian) for a “green” dough that is delicate and smooth, and which pairs well with plain tomato sauce (described here). The process of rolling the gnudi into shape is relatively easy, but it requires time and some patience. The result is spectacular – gnudi are a great first course which can set the tone for a very special meal.

Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli

Yield: 2-3 servings

Total Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli


  • 8 oz (225 g) green chard* leaves, ripped (*a.k.a. Swiss chard)
  • 4 oz (115 g) fresh spinach leaves
  • 6 oz (170 g) cow ricotta, well drained
  • 1 yolk
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) Parmigiano, grated
  • 1/8 cup (15 g) white flour, plus 1/4 cup (30 g) to coat the gnudi
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (240 g) tomato sauce


  1. Wash the green chard, coarsely rip the leaves and place them, still damp, into a large pot. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes at a medium heat until wilted, stirring occasionally. They will reduce their volume considerably.chard, cooking
  2. Meanwhile, wash the spinach leaves and cook them in the same way as the chard, but only for 5 minutes.spinach, cooking
  3. Remove the greens from the heat and place them in a colander to cool. When cold enough to handle, squeeze them vigorously with your hands or by wrapping them into a clean tea towel. As Domenica predicted, these quantities yielded about ½ cup of squeezed, cooked greens. Place the greens on a cutting board and chop them finely.gnudi greens
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped greens, the ricotta, the yolk, Parmigiano (keeping 1 tablespoon aside), flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.gnudi mix
  5. As you bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil, start forming the gnudi. Prepare one bowl filled with flour, next to a plate coated in parchment paper. Using your hands, make balls of dough of about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Roll them in the flour until uniformly coated, then place them on the parchment paper.ready to cook gnudi
  6. Boil the gnudi a batch at a time making sure not to overcrowd them (so that they don’t stick to one another, and to ensure the water remains boiling). Gently place them into the simmering water and allow them to cook undisturbed for 6-8 minutes. About half-way through the cooking, they will start floating.
  7. Gently remove the gnudi from the water using a perforated ladle, and place them into a colander. Keep them warm as you cook the next batch.
  8. Have the tomato sauce ready and kept warm in a skillet. Place 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce in preheated bowls. Roll the gnudi into the skillet with the sauce until coated, then gently place them into the bowls. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano, serve immediately.
Paolo Rigiroli

Author: Paolo Rigiroli

Now based in the UK, Paolo is an Italian who lived in Canada for nearly 18 years and blogs about Italian food and its many aberrations.

14 thoughts on “Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli”

  1. Paolo – gnudi are one of my favorite vegetarian entrees, and we often make them when we have lots of spinach on hand. I look forward to trying Domenica’s version, though – just different enough from the recipe I use, and I think they will be better. (Yours certainly look better!) For one thing, my recipe doesn’t include rolling them in flour – and I think that would help a lot in forming the gnudi.

    Sadly, I am behind in my podcast listening, and very much look forward to hearing Domenica’s interview with you. I hope to hear it this weekend!

    As always, I will report back on the gnudi once I make them.

      1. Paolo – these were just fantastic! Mark and I ate the entire batch, so your serving suggestion for 2-3 is perfect. Actually, as a primo, these would make the perfect serving for 4 people. Many thanks to you and Domenica for sharing this recipe – it is the first time my gnudi have come out perfectly!

  2. Thank you for sharing this recipe, Paolo, and pictures of all the steps. So helpful for people who haven’t made these before. This is the perfect time of year for un bel piatto di gnudi, isn’t it. Cheers, D

    1. Thanks Domenica, anytime 🙂 My gnudi are not as beautiful as yours, though.

      Yes, it is a perfect time to have them. BTW, good point about being a popular choice during Lent.

  3. Great tutorial, Paolo! And they turned out so very pretty. I’ve been meaning to feature gnudi on the blog for quite some time now—never gotten around to it! Will have to take a page out of your/Domenica’s book on this one.

    1. Thanks Frank! Coming from you, especially appreciated. Though I found out that even if they don’t turn out pretty, it’s not a problem – one can call them ‘malfatti’ and display them proudly!

  4. These look delicious, but I cannot eat wheat flour. Do you think it would work with an alternative flour? Potato, perhaps, or potato/tapioca? Thanks!

    1. Hi Brian, thanks for your question. Wheat flour here is just used as a binding agent, and in a small amount. I think potato or rice flour would work perfectly as substitutes. Enjoy!

  5. You are always way ahead of me when thinking up possible disgraces on the menu (see your comment on IG the other day): I never would have thought of warning anybody about them not being vegetarian meatballs to accompany pasta, but that is why you are so good at what you do!

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