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Gnudi: Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings

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If you’re looking for a pasta fix without all the carbs, this is your dish!

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi - 9 Weight Watchers PointsPlus

When I first saw Giada de Laurentiis make these Italian pillows of ravioli, without the pasta—known as Gnudi, or Gnocchi—I couldn’t wait to try them. Seeing them in Food Network Magazine a while later was the push I needed.

I usually make them with whole-milk ricotta, but today I used the low fat version and I didn’t miss a thing, so I’m going with this light version!

It’s a delicious, simple, relatively low-fat recipe. Pairs well with a salad and some crusty, warm bread.

Or with Trader Joe’s Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Breasts for extra protein.

Trader Joe's Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Breasts

Click here for Orna’s Trader Joe’s Shopping List with Weight Watchers Power Foods and PointsPlus values >>

To Squeeze the Spinach

I use the Trader Joe’s Chopped Spinach which comes in a 16-oz bag; leave it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, and then it might still need some more time on the counter.

Chopped Spinach.1

Sauté the leftovers in olive oil spray to fill you up!

Set it in a colander over the bowl you’re going to use (set them both on your scale and pour in 10 ounces. Then squeeze it in your hands over the colander. When you think you’ve squeezed it enough, squeeze it some more! Then wrap it in a double layer of paper towels and give one more squeeze till totally dry. Discard the water and wipe the bowl dry before placing the spinach in it. Separate into small pieces with your fingers.

Sam’s favorite store-bought sauce is  Buitoni Marinara Sauce. If you prefer a lighter, lower fat sauce try Trader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara.

Buitoni Marinara SauceBuitoni Marinara Sauce.nutritionals


Tomato Basil Marinara with Nutritional info


Next up I’ll be trying Scott Conant’s Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi, with a Porcini Puree. I’ve been salivating over them ever since I saw him make them on The Best Thing I Ever Made. Love that show!

Did anyone see that episode? Have you tried making them?

Cool Tools

Gnudi: Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings

9 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for four balls with sauce
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • 1 10- oz package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry (see notes) (recommended Trader Joe's Chopped Spinach)
  • 1 ½ cups about 13-oz low fat ricotta cheese (recommended: Precious Low Fat Ricotta)
  • 1 cup 3/4 + 1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese (recommended: Trader Joe's grated Parmesan)
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour; plus more for rolling
  • 2 large or extra-large eggs
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 3 - 4 grates
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce recommended: Buitoni Marinara Sauce or Trader Giotto's Organic, Low Fat Tomato Basil Marinara
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces (optional)
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil recommended: Trader Joe's Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil


  • Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a simmer. (Salty like the ocean—in the words of Chef Anne Burrell.) Put the spinach in a large bowl and separate it with your hands. Add the ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, flour, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg. Mix with a silicone spatula to form a slightly sticky dough; just until combined, don't over mix.
  • Spread a little flour (about 1/4 cup) on a large dinner plate. Have an extra small container of flour standing by for your hands and the plate, as needed. Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of the spinach-ricotta mixture and roll into about 24 loose balls, using floured hands; a medium cookie scoop makes 24 perfectly uniform balls. Gently roll the balls in the flour. Shake each ball gently in your hand to let excess flour fall through your fingers. Place prepared balls on a second large dinner plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up the dough. This can be done the day before.
  • Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the butter. (if using) The butter makes the sauce silkier, but if you prefer to leave it out it will still be delicious.
  • Meanwhile, gently lower the dumplings into the simmering water—NOT vigorously boiling, (with a ladle or slotted spoon). Be careful not to overcrowd the pan—work in batches if necessary. Cook until they rise to the surface and are firm, about 5 - 7 minutes. Don't let the water boil too vigorously, or they will fall apart. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain off, and transfer to a large casserole dish (preferably in a single layer). Drizzle with a little olive oil and gently toss to coat. Leave uncovered or partially covered or the steam will keep cooking them. Set aside until ready to serve; if necessary cover and microwave to reheat.
  • To serve: arrange 4 gnudi on each serving plate, top with desired amount of sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Enjoy!


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6 Responses

    1. Let me know if you try it. I think you might lose flavor and creaminess if you use fat free ricotta, but it’s always worth a try!

  1. Yummm, the Gnudi thingys look delicious. I just printed out the recipe. We are remodeling the kitchen and that might have to be the first thing we try in the new kitchen. Can’t wait! Randy & Angela

  2. I’d love to try these but how do they compare to regular pasta gnocchi? Do they have the same texture? I have texture issues and I’d hate to waste the ingredients. Thanks!

    1. They’re not as firm as potato gnocchi – more like the filling of ravioli. If you don’t like the texture of ricotta cheese I would probably hold off. 🙁

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