September. One of my favourite months, it’s still summer but you can feel autumn coming.
It represents to many people, me included, the beginning of a new year, full of new projects and changes.
The days shorten, the air gets brisker and the colours cleaner. To celebrate this charming period, I love to take advantage of the last summer tastes, above all the basil.
Also called the “Royal herb“, as the greek origin of the name recalls, the basil is also the absolute protagonist of the Italian summer herbs.
There are many varieties, as the greek with tiny leaves or the red one, but one of the finest is the Genovese basil DOP, cultivated on the Ligurian coast.
It features medium-small leaves of a light green, with a delicate smell, and without the mintish aftertaste, typical in other cultivar.
This time I tried a different recipe, ispired but modified from Jamie Magazine (june 2014 issue). Intrigued by this alternative version of this winter and Tuscan-traditional dish: Gnudi.
For those who have never heard about them, they’re technically “naked ravioli”, made by just ricotta, eggs, flour and usually spinaches, here substituted by basil, really a lot actually, so that your kitchen will be saturated by this intense aroma.
So scrumptious, perfect for a summer overdose!
RICOTTA AND BASIL GNUDI WITH COURGETTES
for 4 people:
350 g good quality ricotta
70 g basil
50 g grated Parmesan
80 g all-purpose flour
for the sauce:
4 small courgettes
2 garlic cloves
1 organic lemon
salt and pepper
Wash the basil and roughly drain the extra water, using a salad dryer.
Put 3/4 of basil leaves in a pan and let them cook until slightly wilted. If need add some drops of water, so that you don’t burn the basil.
Squeeze the cooked basil and mix it with half the ricotta in a blender and then put the purée in a bowl.
Add the remaining ricotta, the parmesan, the eggs; when everything is properly mixed, add the flour. The quantity of flour depends of the quality of the ricotta; so if needed, add some extra flour, but not too much, otherwise you get heavy gnudi.
Prepare a tray with generous semolina flour and using two spoons, shape irregular balls and roll them into the semolina. When you’re done, cover with plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, better overnight, as suggested in Jamie Magazine.
In the meanwhile prepare the sauce.
Remove the garlic skin, and slightly press it under your hand. Heat the extra vergin olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic.
When the oil starts to smell of garlic, remove the cloves and add the courgettes, previously cut into cubes together with the remaining basil leaves.
Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add grated lemon zest and switch off the heat.
Remove the gnudi from the fridge so that they can return at room temperature.
Cook gnudi in boiling and salted water, in batches. As soon as they are cooked, they will float to the surface, after some minutes of cooking (the bigger they are, the longer they need to be cooked).
Drain the gnudi with a slotted spoon and put them on a tray, until they are all cooked.
Reheat the pan of zucchini and basil and add the gnudi to the sauce and gently stir through.
Firm but yielding, and with a delicious basil taste. These gnudi are a winner!
This post is also available in: Italian