Naked Pasta…

Longshort_GnocchiNudi0033 copy
May,2, 2018 12:42 pm

Here’s an easy to make recipe from our latest book ‘The Long and Short of Pasta’ which from May 31st will be available to buy from all good book shops and on our on line store.


Gnocchi nudi in salsa di burro, salvia e pancetta

Kale and ricotta gnocchi in sage and bacon butter

The name of these gnocchi literally means ‘nude’ gnocchi as they are like the spinach and ricotta stuffing that you find in ravioli only without their pasta clothes. In Siena they are known as malfatti, meaning ‘badly made’, while in Florence they are called gnocchi nudi and some call them strozzapreti, meaning ‘priest-stranglers’, as apparently they were given to priests in the days of the mezzadria who were so greedy they almost choked on them. If you don’t have kale, use 200g of cooked and well-squeezed spinach or Swiss chard leaves instead. Serve them with the bacon, butter and sage sauce (omit the bacon for a vegetarian version).

Serves 6 as a starter and 4 as a main (makes approximately 36 gnocchi)

300 g (10½ oz) fresh curly kale or cavolo nero (trimmed of tough stems) or 200 g (7 oz) cooked and thoroughly squeezed curly kale or cavolo nero leaves

250 g (9 oz/1 cup) ricotta, drained

100 g (3½ oz) finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

1 egg

3 tablespoons wheat or gluten-free flour, plus extra for dusting

¼ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the cooking water

a few twists of freshly ground black pepper

For the bacon, butter and sage sauce

100 g (3½ oz) butter

150 g (5 oz) unsmoked or smoked pancetta or bacon, cut into small strips 

10 sage leaves

salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper (optional)

30 g (1 oz) pine nuts, toasted (optional)

To serve

25 g (1 oz) finely grated Parmesan 

If using fresh kale or cavolo nero, wash the leaves and pull away the tough stems. Roughly cut the leaves and boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside. 

When cool enough to handle, thoroughly squeeze out the excess water from the kale (to the last drop!) and finely chop in a food processor (or by hand with a sharp knife on a board) and put into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the kale and stir through to combine.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 09.49.36

The mixture should be firm enough to handle and not wet and sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour to the mix.   

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 09.51.30

Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, making sure they are tightly packed so that they don’t break up in the water. As you prepare the balls, put them on a floured surface.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 09.54.03

You can keep them like this in the fridge, loosely covered, for up to a day if you want to prepare them in advance. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 09.56.58

Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a large frying pan. Add the bacon, sage leaves, salt and pepper (if using) and fry until the bacon is cooked through and the sage leaves are lightly browned.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 10.01.06

Add a ladleful of hot water and stir well. Leave the sauce over a very low heat while you cook the gnocchi. 

Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium – unlike when cooking pasta, you want a slow rolling boil, not a rapid boil. Drop the gnocchi carefully into the boiling water.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 09.57.53

Let the water come back up to the boil and cook for 3–4 minutes until the gnocchi rise up to the surface. Let them bob around for a further minute then carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and lower them gently into the butter sauce. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 10.03.29

Fry them in the sauce for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 10.06.50

Serve with extra grated Parmesan on top.

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 09.23.05

Check out the short demo video below and enjoy cooking these little balls of joy :-)

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 10.16.12

To buy signed copies of ‘The Long and Short of Pasta’ published by Hardie Grant with photography by Helen Cathcart click HERE.


  1. 20th May 2018

    Can you do this with frozen spinach?

  2. 3rd July 2018

    Yes… just make sure to squeeze the water out


*We will not publish your email address