Ahhhh the ever-popular zucchini flower!!
I’ve been cooking with them all summer long…partly because I love them but also because the are still growing furiously on my zucchini plants!!
I was making a batch of gnocchi a few weeks ago and thought I’d try putting some into the dough (I got this idea when my friend Ema showed me how to add edible flowers to my pasta – see below for a picture and here for the post!)
So, when I was thinking about the flowers, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to add them to this easy dough (if you can’t find zucchini flowers, feel free to add any edible flower or leave it out altogether!)
About five years ago, I wrote this blog post about making gnocchi with both potatoes and ricotta. But, it wasn’t until later that I realized that, although potato gnocchi are more traditional, making them with ricotta is way easier.
Why, you ask?
Well, when you cook with potatoes, you need to know the kind of potatoes to use for each dish (some are better for roasting while others are better for mash) but you also need to know how to measure the age of the potato. An older potato has a different moisture content so, when you create dishes like this, an old potato will react differently than a new potato. And, don’t even get me started with size. I mean, how “medium” is a medium potato??
Soooo many things to think about.
But, when you use ricotta, it is pre-measured and, for the most part, fool-proof. The only thing you might have to play with is the flour (these ones are soft so if you like a harder gnocchi, you might want to add more flour).
But, it’s easy peasy and comes together in no time…
…roll them into logs and cut them into small pieces.
There are so many ways to make the traditional indentation on the gnocchi – which are there to “hold” the sauce better. There is a wooden paddle that you roll the pieces along (which you can find and most Italian stores), or you can use the bottom of a basket (like most of our grandmothers did) or you can use the good ol’ standby…the fork!
So easy to make and you can freeze the gnocchi right away to use later! And, when you cook them up, they literally take minutes to cook. Toss them in a light tomato sauce like I’ve done below (just simple roasted cherry tomatoes that are in season right now and bursting with flavour!) and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time!
You can even chop up some zucchini and onion and cook it in some butter and toss the cooked gnocchi in there!! So many options…
You guys need to give this a try. I want to know that I have convinced some of you to make some homemade pasta. Once you conquer this, you can do anything!!
Ricotta Gnocchi with Zucchini Flowers
The bright yellow zucchini flowers add a pretty seasonal touch to these easy gnocchi. But feel free to leave them out or add in your own special touches!!
- 1 container (425 g) ricotta cheese (full fat if possible)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Raggiano, grated
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use bread flour)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 large zucchini flowers, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tbsp each salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp butter
For the ricotta gnocchi, make a well in the ricotta and add your egg, cheese, zucchini flowers, salt and pepper. Now start adding 1 cup of flour and begin to mix. The dough should be a little tacky to touch, but it should form to make a soft smooth ball so keep adding flour until this happens.
Cover with cling wrap and a dishtowel to prevent it from drying out and let it rest for 15 minutes to a few hours.
To finish forming the gnocchi, divide the dough into manageable pieces (I like to divide the dough into eighths). Take each piece on a floured surface and roll into logs that measure between a ½ and ¾ inch. Cut the logs into ½- to ¾-inch pieces using a sharp knife
Some people use the base of a wicker basket and roll the gnocchi against this to create ridges, always using a thumb or middle finger (never the index because it is too small). There are also gadgets made specifically for rolling gnocchi but I find the gnocchi sticks to it and the ridges aren't deep enough. You can also use the tried and true method of the back of a fork.
Place the gnocchi on a floured surface and covered until ready to use (gnocchi freezes well, so make a big batch, freeze them on the cookie sheet and then once frozen, place them into a freezer bag and store for up to one month).
If you are cooking the gnocchi now, boil a large pot of water and salt quite heavily (the water should taste like sea water!); when the water is at a rolling boil, salt and place the gnocchi in the water and wait for them to float to the top (that's when they are ready).
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and place the tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour oil over tomatoes, toss generously and season well with salt and pepper. Bake until browned, about 10-15 minutes.
Scrape all of the tomatoes into a large skillet and place over medium high heat. Add in the cooked gnocchi and stir gently. Add butter and stir until melted. Serve immediately with another grating of parmigiano if desired.