When you see the word gnocchi – your brain starts to fizzle, you get a little sweaty and start looking for an exit. How do I say this word? Why is there even a G in the name if I can’t say it? GAHHHH! Ok. Ok. Let’s just settle down – we are still at the beginning of the alphabet here. Let’s call them dumplings.
These cheesy little dumplings require very little effort and you don’t even have to make those silly little ridges with a fork. Just mix, roll into a rope. cut into little pillows and boil. Done. No potatoes, just ricotta cheese, flour, eggs and Parmesan.
But what makes this dish SO delicious is the pesto. Bright, tender, lemony basil and dill with sweet green peas and spinach. This pesto is packed with flavor!
My friend Jan grows the most beautiful basil on the porch every summer – TONS of flavor – just grows and grows. It’s so nice to walk out the back door and snip this beautiful herb whenever we need.
A couple of summers ago, I was making basil infused olive oil for a friends birthday dinner, I went out to the porch, grabbed a huge handful of basil and jammed it into a mason jar with olive oil and spices. Put the lid on and let it sit for a day. Gave our friends the infused oil after the party and the next day I get a text with a picture of a GIANT grasshopper in the jar of olive oil.
Wash your herbs, friends, wash your herbs! Pesto freezes beautifully – but it does have a short shelf life in the fridge. So if you’re not going to use it all up within 3 days, freeze it. It will come back to life perfectly when you need a quick meal.
The perfect kitchen tool for pesto is a food processor. I’m not telling you to run out and buy one, but it’s one of my most used tools in the kitchen. As I was making this pesto for dinner at my sister’s house the other night, I noticed the blade attachment just sitting on the counter – not in the food processor FILLED with herbs and peas and lemon juice. The machine is only as useful as it’s operator. Jeeze….please hold while I dump all of this out and then put in the blade.
Ricotta dumplings (gnocchi) with pesto
- Spring Pesto
- 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, plus additional for garnish
- 1 cup basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- 2 Tbsp. roasted and lightly salted pistachios, plus additional for garnish
- 1 large lemon, zest and juice, divided
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper, or more to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Ricotta dumplings
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15-oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 4 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 (8-oz.) container fresh burrata, drained
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- For pesto: In a large pot of boiling water, generously add kosher salt. The water should taste salty, like the sea! Add peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, remove peas with a spider or slotted spoon; reserve cooking water.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, place cooked peas, fresh spinach, dill, basil, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp. pistachios, the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, garlic clove, honey, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Cover and pulse until mixture is combined. With food processor running, slowly pour in olive oil and process until smooth.
- For dumplings: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and ricotta cheese until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 tsp. salt to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture just until combined. Do not over-mix!
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding the reserved 1/2 cup flour as your kneed until a smooth ball forms. Dough should feel tacky, but not sticky. Cut dough ball into 4 pieces. Gently roll each section into a long rope. With a pastry cutter or knife, cut ropes into ½-1” pieces.
- Return the reserved cooking water to boiling, transfer the dumplings the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until dumplings float to the top.
- Meanwhile, add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the remaining 1/2 of the lemon zest and juice. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the prepared pesto, stirring until combined.
- Drain the dumplings and transfer them to the sauce, stirring gently to coat.
- To serve; drizzle remaining pesto over the dumplings (or reserve for another time).
- Break burrata into large pieces; garnish with fresh dill, basil, Parmesan cheese, chopped pistachios and fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.