Friday, January 13, 2017

Zucchini and Ricotta Gnocchi for a healthy weekend treat

Zucchini and Ricotta Gnocchi with Lemon Sauce

When I saw this recipe and photo in a recent Mindfood magazine, my mouth watered and I just had to cook it. I've never made gnocchi before, and rarely order it in restaurants in preference for meat based dishes, however with zucchinis being in season, it is the perfect dish on a hot summers night or for lunch on  Sunday. The recipe is based on ricotta cheese, not potato so these little dumpling treats are slightly richer in flavour, and you don't have to cook the potato.

This dish is also ideal to make on the weekend when you have a little bit more time at your disposal and a willing helper or two around to assist with the whisking of the sauce over the hotplate, or the actual cooking of the gnocchi, however it is entirely possible to bring it all together solo.  If you can find some zucchini flowers to serve with it, especially if you are lucky enough to be growing zucchinis at home, then voila you have a delicious and healthy meal suitable to serve up for your friends.


4 cups grated zucchini
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup loosely packed basil, sliced
2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (390g) ricotta
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup grated Parmesan for decoration
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 cup (125) plain flour
Zucchini flowers to garnish, if you have them

Lemon Sauce

4 egg yolks
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
1 generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp thick cream or creme fraiche

Let's cook:

The Gnocchi
  1. Mix grated zucchini and salt, let this drain in a colander for 20 minutes.
  2. Place grated zucchini in a tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. There may be a lot of liquid.
  3. Mix together in a bowl the zucchini, basil, lemon zest, nutmeg, ricotta, egg yolks, cheese and pepper. 
  4. Mix in enough flour to form a dough. You may need more than the cup of flour in hot and humid conditions.
  5. Using a well floured bench, divide the dough, and roll into 2cm thick strings. Slice each string into 2 cm pieces and use well floured hands to roll each piece into small balls. 

Place on a tray in the refrigerator and allow to chill, for at lest 10-20 minutes before cooking.After initially chilling them, they can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before cooking, this allows you to prepare them in advance before cooking, as they really need to be eaten as soon as they are cooked.

Let's make the Lemon Sauce:
This can be made in advance in the morning, refrigerated and reheated gently in the microwave  before serving. 
  1. To make the Lemon Sauce place the egg yolks in a glass bowl. Add sugar, lemon juice and zest and beat with an electric hand beater or a whisk until light and creamy.
  2. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and continue to whisk for 5 minutes until well aerated and thick. 
  3. Gradually add the stock and continue to whisk or beat over a low heat until the mixture thickens, about 12-15 minutes. Neil took over and helped me with this as it took about 20 minutes using a metal whisk. The sauce should be the consistency of thick cream and does thicken more as it rests and cools. 
  4. When cool, season with the salt and the cayenne pepper, and to make a richer sauce fold in the cream or creme fraiche. Taste the sauce and if you think the lemon flavour is a bit strong for your taste add a little more cream. Set aside.
The Lemon Sauce should ideally be cooked and finished before you start cooking the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until it floats. Using a slotted spoon or a  mesh strainer,  remove the gnocchi and drain in a colander over a plate.

Place the hot gnocchi in a large bowl and pour over some of the sauce. Toss to cover the gnocchi with the warm sauce. 

Serve immediately, and if you have some zucchini flowers, use as a garnish along with some grated Parmesan and extra lemon sauce.

These gnocchi could also be served with a tomato based sauce.

Bon appetit dear readers, have a wonderful and relaxing weekend in a cool spot, and enjoy some delicious food.

Warm wishes, Pauline

Click here for tomato based sauce recipe.

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