Summery spinach and herb gnudi


Last year I attended a farm to table bootcamp at the Culinary Institute of America, in St Helena, Napa Valley. It was a really great experience that taught me a lot about sustainable farming and wine making. I also got to spend every day at the CIA kitchen, cooking farm fresh, California produce driven dishes. Coming out of this program I have a definite favorite recipe that I am ready to share with you. I have cooked it so many times and each and every time I am totally in love with the flavors. I always make it with roasted tomato beurre blanc but I realize this might be a bit too much of work for most of you. Hence, I came up with my own recipe that allows you to make it quicker and achieve a very similar taste. Also this recipe uses lardons. If you want to keep the dish vegetarian just remove the lardons and use some very strong, good quality smoked salt and it will bring  some smoky flavor to the plate 🙂


First you will make a dough for the gnudi with sauteed spinach and fresh herbs, then cook the corn and roast the tomatoes. Before serving fry some lardons and sage in butter, cook the gnudi and transfer everything into a skillet.

Ingredients (yields 4)

  • 1 cup of blanched, chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp of mixed chopped fines herbs  (chive, parsley, chevril)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour (and some more for the rolling)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 2 corns
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup lardon (smoked thick bacon)
  • cold butter
  • 10-15 sage leaves both chiffonaded and in whole
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt, black pepper



  • Blanch the spinach in boiling, heavily salted water for just a few seconds. Immediately transfer into a big bowl of iced water, to stop cooking and retain color. Drain and squeeze out all the water. Then chop the spinach very well.
  • Chop some chive, parsley and chevril to have enough of at least 3 teaspoon of chopped herbs. More is better.
  • In a big bowl mix 2 egg yolks, ricotta, chopped spinach and herbs, parmesan and season with salt and black pepper. Let it rest in the fridge until you are ready with the remaining components.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish (so you can save the juice), drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt. Roast the tomatoes at 450F until they start to fall apart. Be careful not to over roast, so they are still juicy!
  • Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the corns. Rinse them with cold water and keep them in warm water. When you are ready to use it, cut the corns off the kernels.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter and lardons in a skillet and pan roast the lardons . Add the sage and the minced shallot and sautee them for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it, not the burn the onions. Add the cherry tomatoes and when everything is very hot, add the vinegar and make sure you keep it on high heat and carefully stirring for a minute, to cook down the vinegar a touch. Finally add the corn kernels that you cut off the corn.


  • In the meantime bring salted water to a boil for cooking the gnudi.
  • Place the gnudi dough on a very well floured surface. Divide it into 3-4 manageable portions. Roll each mixture into a rope shape, (about 1 inch in diameter) adding as much flour as needed to be able to JUST work with it! Not more because you will end up with a hard, chewy, floury gnudi.
  • Dust your hands with flour and start cutting the gnudis with a bench knife (about 3/4 inch long). You can transfer the gnudi from the floured board in the boiling water.
  • Cook gnudi for 2-3 minutes. They will come to surface very quickly, you will need to cook a bit more than that.
  • Drain the cooked gnudi and immediately transfer into the skillet with the warm sage lardon mix. Add tomatotes and corn kernels. Carefully mix everything so it covered fully in the sage butter and also some juice that the cherry tomatoes are releasing.
  • Serve with fresh, tiny herb leaves of sage and chevril and/or chopped chives.



That amazing panzanella

Just in case you never heard about this salad. Originates in Tuscany and predominantly consists of stale bread and tomatoes.

Just like so many great, simple dishes this one is a result of using leftover. Bread that can not be used otherwise anymore, and needs some moisture to bring back to life. And what is better for that than beautiful, ripe, juicy, flavorful in season tomatoes?


In this version I grilled some ingredients, to give it a bit of extra flavor and more suitable for those barbecue days.



  • stale bread
  • ripe, juicy tomatoes, any kind (best with heirloom )
  • red onion – both grilled and fresh
  • garlic
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • shaved parmesan

You can also add fresh cucumbers or grilled zucchini if you want. But it has to be mainly all about the tomatoes.



  1. Cut the red onions in half and grill them. (If you cut them any smaller, they will easily fall apart and difficult to handle.)
  2. Drizzle olive oil on the stale bread and season with salt.
  3. Grill the bread.
  4. While the bread and onion is cooling down, chop the tomatoes into big chunks, if you use cherry tomatoes too, only half those.
  5. Put all the tomatoes in a big bowl, season GENEROUSLY with salt, add ground black pepper, minced garlic (use only one clove for about 4 portions), good splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil and chiffonade basil leaves. Mix it with your hands, carefully not to break the tomatoes too much and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that you get juice out of those tomatoes.
  6. Then add the grilled, chopped red onion and the grilled bread cut or torn into similar sizes as your tomatoes.
  7. Let it sit again for about 10 minutes so the bread can start soaking up the good juice but will not get oversoaked!
  8. Finish it off with fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan.


Serve this salad as a side dish at your barbecue. It will be great by itself or with steak, shrimps and even chicken! Enjoy and have a great July 4th weekend!