Lemon Poppyseed Gnudi with Brown Butter and Basil


All ricottas will vary in water content/moistness. If you happen upon a tub of especially wet ricotta, you’ll need to drain it briefly first. I’ve added poppy seeds and lemon zest to these gnudi, because they’re absolutely gorgigi together, but if you don’t like poppyseeds or have an allergy, by all means, leave ‘em out! The recipe will hold up either way.

Active Time: 45 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins



  • 2 juicy lemons
  • 1 large bunch basil


  • 2 heaping tablespoons poppyseeds
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • Flaky salt, for serving


  • 15 ounces fresh ricotta
  • 2 ounces parmigiano-reggiano, plus additional for serving
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Do some prep:

  • If your ricotta seems wet, place a quadruple layer of paper towels or a folded clean kitchen towel on a work surface. Pile 15-ounces of ricotta on top, spreading to the edges of the paper towels. Let sit for several minutes, until some of the moisture from the ricotta has been wicked away. Blot the top, pressing lightly with more paper towels, and scrape the ricotta into a large bowl.
  • Finely grate 2 ounces of parmigiano-reggiano. (This will measure a heaping 1 cup lightly packed cheese.)
  • Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of zest from one lemon. Scrape any white pith off of the undersides of each peel using a spoon. Thinly slice the peels into strips lengthwise, then slice the strips crosswise, to obtain a fine mince. You’ll need about 4 teaspoons.

2. Make the gnudi dough:

  • To the bowl with the ricotta, add one egg, the grated parmigiano-reggiano, half of the minced lemon zest, and 1 heaping tablespoon poppy seeds. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spatula until smooth.
  • Add ½ cup flour and stir until incorporated. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator until chilled, at least ½ hour, or up to 2 days in advance.
  • Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil and season generously with salt.

3. Make the poppyseed brown butter:

  • Remove the leaves of a small bunch of basil from their stems.
  • Melt 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a deep, wide skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to turn golden, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Immediately add the remaining heaping tablespoon of poppyseeds and the remaining minced lemon zest, swirl to coat, and, when the butter turns deeply golden, remove from the heat (If the butter is browning too fast, reduce the heat, or feel free to add a splash of water to halt the browning.)

4. Form and cook the gnudi:

  • Mound the remaining 1½ cups all-purpose flour onto one half of a baking sheet. Lightly dust the other half with flour.
  • Using two small spoons, scoop from the bowl of gnudi dough to form small rounds or quenelles of dough, flouring your spoon in between each one to avoid stickage. Each one should be about one tablespoon of dough. From the spoon, drop each one into the mound of flour. Repeat with remaining dough, in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the flour. If you have never made a quenelle before, here’s a very random but informative video that will demo how it’s done!
  • Using your fingers, gently push the dumplings around to lightly coat each piece in flour. Transfer pieces, shaking off excess flour, to the unoccupied side of the baking sheet.
  • Shake all excess flour from the uncooked gnudi and drop into the boiling water. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, flipping the gnudi from time, until each piece is cooked through, 5 minutes.

5. Finish the gnudi and serve:

  • Rewarm the butter mixture over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnudi directly from the boiling water into the sauce. Ladle a spoon full of the starchy pasta water into the skillet and vigorously shake and stir the pan to create a silky, emulsified sauce.
  • Remove from the heat, and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the sauce.
  • Throw the picked basil leaves into the skillet and stir to coat.
  • Season the sauce to taste with salt. Depending on the juiciness of your lemon, you may want to add more lemon juice, as well. It will need a lot of salt and lemon to cut through all that butter and really make the flavors pop!!
  • Divide gnudi and sauce among shallow bowls or plates and serve, topped with additional grated parmigiano-reggiano and flaky salt.

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