Baked Spinach Ricotta Gnudi

  • 1 quantity of Béchamel sauce (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce 
  • 1 lb frozen chopped spinach (3 300g packages)
  • 8 oz fresh ricotta cheese (1 330g tub)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil, chopped for garnish
  • Butter for greasing baking dish
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much water as you can. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, eggs, half the Parmesan cheese and a grating of nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon to make a soft mass. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, prepare the béchamel sauce (see below). Liberally butter a 9"x12" baking dish. Spoon a little of the béchamel sauce onto the bottom of the dish to just cover it.
  • Put the flour on to a flat plate and pat your hands in the flour. Using your hands, form dumplings the size of a small egg, slightly elongated (about 1½ inches long by 3/4 inches wide). Dust them very lightly in the flour and put them onto the béchamel in neat rows. 
  • Cover with the remaining béchamel. Splash the surface with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and lightly golden. Serve hot in warmed bowls, with a generous sprinkling of basil on each serving.

Béchamel Sauce (Bechiamella)

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter, and then add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for a minute or two until it is lightly golden. Add a ladleful of the warm milk and stir well so it does not form lumps. Continue adding the milk in ladlefuls and stirring constantly until all the milk has been incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, and a generous grating of nutmeg. Continue cooking and stirring on low heat for another 10 minutes to thicken. It should be very smooth. Remove from the heat. Just before using, give it a good whisking.