Ricotta and Lovage Gnudi with Lobster in Tomato Cream

recipe CHEF MELODY WOLFERTZ  |  photography AMY WILTON

Gnudi is a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and a little bit of flour. The result is a dumpling sometimes described as “nude” ravioli—the filling without the pasta. Chef Melody Wolfertz dressed up these light, fluffy and creamy puffs with lovage—a celery-tasting herb in the parsley family. If you can’t get your hands on lovage, Chef Wolfertz suggests using either all spinach leaves or a mixture of spinach and arugula.

Serves 6 to 8 (with plenty of leftover gnudi to freeze)

5 cups loosely packed lovage leaves
5 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, wilted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
30 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese (if store-bought, drain
in cheesecloth overnight)
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
10 ounces (about 7 cups) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 egg yolks
½ teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Tomato cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, minced
½ cup Pinot Noir
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

24 ounces par-cooked and shelled lobster meat
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Pick the leaves off the lovage stems. Wash lovage and spinach leaves well. In a sauté pan, using only the water left on the leaves from washing them, lightly wilt lovage and spinach until just tender but still green. Drain wilted leaves in a colander, cool and squeeze out water.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Chop the leaves finely and combine with melted butter in a large bowl. Add drained ricotta, flour, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg yolks, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix until just combined, do not overwork.

Using 2 soup spoons, make quenelles (football-shaped dumplings) by taking a small amount of dough in 1 spoon and then scraping it off with the other. Place gnudi on a parchment-lined baking sheet that is also dusted with flour. When all gnudi are molded, freeze them for at least 30 minutes. They may be kept for a month or so if tightly wrapped.

Tomato Cream
Combine 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add shallots and a pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent but not brown. Add Pinot Noir and reduce the liquid until the pan is almost dry (about 6–8 minutes). Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes and torn basil to the pan. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook until the oil begins to render from the mixture (about 8–10 minutes). Add cream and simmer until mixture evenly coats the back of a spoon (about 10–12 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve
Place lobster in warm butter over low heat to reheat the lobster meat. Warm tomato cream.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, carefully drop 8 gnudi into the water and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove gnudi to a plate.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lightly sauté blanched gnudi until golden on all sides.

Serve on a pool of the tomato cream, topped with warmed lobster and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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