When I was in culinary school, we were taught how to make a seemingly traditional potato-based gnocchi. I thought I followed the recipe to the tee, but the outcome was uninspired, to say the least. Mind you, from an early age, I was used to handling dough while making chappatis and puris in our family kitchen in Mumbai, India. At the time I wasn't particularly impressed with gnocchi, which are Italian dumplings. Fast-forward about 12 years, and after making numerous versions of gnocchi, and gnudi, I'm a convert.
So, what's the difference between gnocchi and gnudi? Here's how I think of them:
Gnocchi: A pastalike dumpling containing potato, eggs, flour, olive oil and sometimes cheese.
Gnocchi Parisienne: A softer dumpling containing ricotta or other soft cheese, plus flour, eggs, butter, water, sometimes cheese, sometimes Dijon mustard, sometimes fresh herbs.
Gnudi: This is the Italian version of Gnocchi Parisienne, inspired by the filling in a ravioli without the wrapper. A "nude ravioli," as it were. Gnudi is a pillowy dumpling containing ricotta, egg yolks (optional), cheese and just enough (semolina) flour to hold the dumpling together when poached.
Recently, I developed this recipe for gnudi to serve as a course at a Beard House dinner. I have cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City on multiple (five, if one is counting) occasions, and this most recent one was in April. We were invited to showcase the globally inspired flavors of Cress Restaurant. The sold-out dinner featured sustainable seafood (lionfish, stone crab, by-catch octopus), punchy street food-inspired dishes, and elevated fusion cuisine with nontraditional flavor combinations. The courses were paired with wines and cocktails by Cress' sommelier and general manager, my wife Jenneffer Pulapaka.
This recipe shows that classical flavors can be timeless. Traditionally, gnudi would be made with ricotta cheese, but for me, the concept is a canvas. In using Gorgonzola, I am paying homage to Northern Italian cuisine. Ravioli filled with Gorgonzola, nutmeg and dressed with a sage-infused brown butter garnished with walnuts is a classic dish, and I've simply revealed it in the spirit of gnudi.
Hari Pulapaka is a math professor at Stetson University and the James Beard-nominated chef and co-owner of the award-winning Cress Restaurant in DeLand.