Ricotta gnocchi, grilled courgettes & oregano pesto

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So I can only apologise that this recipe has a few similarities to the last posted. It must just be my mood. Or, of course, the fact that I bought too much ricotta. And I’m stuck in some kind of weird warped sense of time because I’ve worked 65 hours this week and feel totally like life has stood still. I’ve eaten lunch and dinner at my desk every day this week, which is kind of depressing. I get serious withdrawal symptoms from my kitchen! And so today when I finally could make my return, I don’t think my mind had progressed that much. Or maybe I spent all week dreaming of ricotta tortellini. Either way – who cares. Ricotta is a great Italian ingredient that deserves to be appreciated.

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The courgettes in this recipe though are equally important as the ricotta gnocchi is. I bloody love a good courgette and created a meal that truly celebrates the different sizes, shapes and colours of this humble vegetable. In my opinion, the best way to cook courgettes is to grill them in a griddle pan with olive oil, seasoning and a a touch of lemon at the last minute. Tossed in the oregano (fresh oregano is underrated I think. It’s great) pesto that’s also got a few other leftover summery herbs hiding in it, these courgettes make a damn decent partner to the gnocchi. Ricotta gnocchi is probably better than potato gnocchi. It’s the first time I’ve made it but it won’t be the last. Somehow, surprisingly, it was more toothsome than potato gnocchi which can be a little soft even when cooked very minimally. The bite of the ricotta gnocchi and the richer flavour was definitely much more appreciated. And when partnered with an abundance of super courgettes it doesn’t feel overly rich and naughty – in a good way!

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You will need:

For the gnocchi:
225g ricotta, excess liquid tipped away
200g tip 00 flour, plus extra to dust
3 large egg yolks
2 tbspns grated Parmesan
1 tspn salt

For the courgettes:

1 small yellow courgette
1 small green courgette
Handful of baby green courgettes (8 or so)
Olive oil, to grill
Salt, pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the pesto:

The picked leaves from 6-7 sprigs of oregano
Around 10 basil leaves
Around 10 mint leaves
4 tbspns olive oil
1 tbspn pine nuts
1 tbspn grated Parmesan
Salt

Plus:

A little extra grated Parmesan, to serve

Method:

1 – Make the gnocchi by mixing together the flour, egg yolks, ricotta, salt and Parmesan. Bring together into a dough ball and knead over a floured surface for a few minutes.
2 – Divide the dough into four and roll each into a ‘sausage’ around 2cm in diameter. Cut the dough into rough squares – don’t be too worried about the shape! Place on a plate scattered with flour and repeat until all gnocchi are made. Cover with a sprinkling of flour, then a layer of cling film and then refrigerate while you prepare the pesto.
3 – Use a mortar and pestle to grind the herbs with a round 1/3 of the olive oil. Meanwhile dry toast the pine nuts until golden and add these along with the Parmesan and a pinch of salt to the bashed up herbs. Grind together. Drizzling in the remaining olive oil.
4 – Next prepare the courgettes. Slice the large ones into rounds and half the baby courgettes lengthways. Get a large pan of salted water on to boil and heat a table spoon of olive oil in a griddle pan.
5 – When the griddle pan is hot, add the courgettes (in batches) and leave to charr, turning after a minute or two. Remove cooked courgettes from the pan while you add the rest. Once cooked, return all courgettes to the pan and turn off the heat. Season the courgettes and squeeze over the lemon.
6 – Add the gnocchi to the boiling pan of water. They are cooked when they all float to the surface. Drain, reserving 1 tbspn water and toss the gnocchi together with the water, pesto and cooked courgettes. Serve immediately with the extra Parmesan on top.

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