This Spinach Ricotta Gnudi Recipe Is Surprisingly Healthy

This heart-healthy version loads up on veggies and uses cheese sparingly.

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In the Eating by Heart series, chef Colombe Jacobsen will be your guide to making healthy food choices. She will demonstrate how to make heart healthy recipes that don't involve extra sodium, sugar and fat.

In episode 7 of Eating by Heart, Colombe Jacobsen shows you how to make spinach ricotta gnudi. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy-sounding word, as gnudi is simply a fun term for an Italian dumpling. This recipe not only tastes good, but it is also healthy since it is loaded with spinach. Spinach is great for your hair, bones, and skin as well as high in iron and protein.

Rinse the spinach, and then transfer the spinach to a pot on the stove to wilt it. For the base of the gnudi, separate two egg yolks and whisk them. The yolks will bind the gnudi mixture together. Add the ricotta cheese to the whisked egg yolks. Ricotta cheese is is high in calcium, but use it sparingly as it is also high in fat. Next add Parmesan cheese for flavor, as well as whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is a great alternative to all purpose flour because of its higher fiber content. Freshly grated nutmeg gives the gnudi a more complex flavor. Colombe suggests using freshly grated spices because they are more flavorful than spices that have been sitting on the shelf for a while.

Remove the wilted spinach and let it cool while you work on the sauce. The sauce is simply olive oil, butter and sage. Olive oil is a heart healthy oil with monounsaturated fats. You can use butter sparingly when following a heart healthy diet, since a little goes a long way for flavor. Melt the butter then add olive and sage leaves to infuse the sauce with the flavor of sage. Adding sea salt will enhance flavor, and it provides a dose of healthy, naturally occurring minerals. Iodized salt does not have the nutritional benefits of sea salt. Remove the sage and turn down the heat on your sauce.

Gently squeeze the spinach to remove moisture, and rough chop it. Combine the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture. Shape the gnudi by taking scoops of the mixture and rolling in your hands and on parchment paper coated with whole wheat flour. Set the gnudi in the refrigerator to chill. After they are chilled, cook the gnudi in a pot. You can tell the gnudi are ready when they float to the top. You can now coat the gnudi with sauce, then finish with crumbled sage.


  • 1 pound spinach (about ¾ cup chopped)
  • 2 large egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage plus 8 leaves

Rinse the spinach. Wilt the spinach in a pot until bright green, about 3 minutes. Let the spinach cool slightly and then squeeze out all of the water. Roll the spinach in a kitchen towel to remove any residual water. Chop finely. In a big bowl lightly beat the egg yolks. Then add the spinach, egg yolks, cheeses, ½ cup flour, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Mound a generous tablespoon of flour on a cutting board. Set up a parchment lined sheet tray or plate. Using a 1 ounce scoop, with floured hands form the gnudi. Drop it into the flour and quickly roll to form a light coat. Repeat and refrigerate, uncovered until ready to cook. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add half of the gnudi and stir gently to prevent them from sticking together. Cook about 5 minutes or until the gnudi rises to the surface. While the gnudi cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in the chopped sage and the sage leaves. Add 1-½ tablespoons of gnudi cooking water, reduce heat to low and cook for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnudi from the cooking water, strain off any excess water and transfer to plates. Cover with sage butter and enjoy immediately! Serves 3-4 (Makes 12 gnudi balls)

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 1
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 32916%
Fat 24gr36%
Cholesterol 171mg56%
Sodium 178mg7%
Carbohydrates 17gr13%
Fiber 1gr4%
Sugar 0gr0%
Protein 12gr23%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Lower Carbohydrate
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium