A rather difficult name for an easy peasy pasta: ‘ndunderi are ricotta and pecorino cheese gnocchi from Minori, on the Amalfi coast. These cheesy morsels are firmer than potato gnocchi but positevly tender and are a cinch to make. They go back centuries: in fact they are said to be deriving from the little pasta balls of farro flour (spelt) and soured milk that the ancient Romans used to make. These days, they are generally served with a simple tomato sauce, but local food historian Ezio Falcone also reccomends moretum, the ancient Romans’ pesto-like sauce made with wild herbs, garlic, olive oil and soured cheese.
I have made ‘ndnduri often and each time I am amazed how versatile they are – they do shine with almost any condiment: tomato sauce, light walnut pesto, olive oil & pecorino & black pepper, sautéed mushrooms. The ones in the picture were dressed with a garlicky and hot tomato and bitter greens sauce, which I think plays nicely against their dairy richness.
Of all the ricotta gnocchi I have tried, these are the most delicious and easiest to prepare: by the time the water comes to the boil, you will have rustled up a batch of ‘ndunderi enough for three people. No excuse not to try them.
‘Ndunderi di Minori, sulla costiera amalfitana (ricotta gnocchi from Minori, in the Amalfi coast)
2 to 3 portions
250 g ricotta, well drained and patted dry with kitchen paper
2 yolks, beaten
100 g grated pecorino cheese
a little grated nutmeg
80 g semola rimacinata flour (or plain flour)
Mix well all the ingredients, minus the flour. Add the flour and incorporate it lightly. Do not overmix.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for a minute or so: this develops the gluten a little and gives the pasta some bite. This dough is much more forgiving than the one used for potato gnocchi and even if you are a liittle heavy-handed, the gnocchi will turn out just fine nonetheless.
Divide the dough into three to four pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and cut it up into little morsels: the size is really up to you. I have seen rather substantial ‘ndunderi and dainty ones. I go for something not too big.
You could make an indent by pressing your thumb into each gnocco or by rolling each one on a fork (as in potato gnocchi) This is not just for look: the indent helps catching the sauce better.
Plonk them into salted simmering water and cook for few minutes from the moment they come afloat. Remove them with a spider and dress them with the sauce. These gnocchi are rather sturdy and you could even sauté them in the pan containing the sauce.
I have made ‘ndunderi with bog-standard supermarket ricotta and with home made almost-ricotta (aka, fresh cheese) – they are always a winner.
They keep very well in the fridge for at least a couple of days: place the formed, uncooked ‘ndunderi in a try heavily dusted with semola flour, sprinkle extra semola on top and loosely cover with cling film. You could also cook them in advance, shock them in icy water, drain them on a cloth and refrigerate (reheat them in the simmering sauce)
On the cheese to use: one could also use provolone or caciocavallo, instead of the pecorino.