How to make perfect gnocchi with courgettes, lemon and basil, ideal for a summer supper

Melanie Johnson shares a recipe that makes the most of the courgettes which are currently doing beautifully in gardens around the country.

Making something wonderful with seasonal produce needn’t be hugely complicated. ‘Courgettes are a kitchen-garden joy, especially
when small with their blowsy flowers,’ writes Melanie Johnson.

One option is as simple as rolling out shop-bought pizza dough, spreading equal amounts of ricotta and mascarpone over the base, then grating over a generous portion of parmesan, some small balls of mozzarella, ribbons of courgette and a drizzle of olive oil — plus chilli oil to serve.

Or you can do something that’s a bit more complicated but a really memorable dish, such as the one below.

Recipe: Creamy summer gnocchi with courgettes, lemon and basil oil

Ingredients

For the basil oil

  • 1 large bunch basil
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil

For the gnocchi (or use shop bought)

  • 1kg potatoes, large, floury, oven-baked
  • 300g plain flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1tspn sea salt
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 6 baby courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 120ml white wine
  • 500ml stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 75ml double cream
  • 1 lemon
  • 75g pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Parmesan to serve

Method

Pick the leaves from a bunch of basil and place them in a bullet blender. Pour over the oil and process until smooth. Line a sieve with muslin (or a clean tea towel) and pour the oil through it. Don’t squeeze the muslin or it may make the final oil cloudy. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for up to a month.

Slice the baked potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and pass it through a ricer into a large bowl. Sprinkle over the flour and add the egg yolks and salt. Use a cutlery knife to cut everything together (this is to ensure the gnocchi is light and the gluten isn’t over developed). When the mixture starts coming into one, use your hands for a final knead to bring it together. Divide into four parts and shape each into a long cylinder. Cut into bite-sized pieces and place these on a floured surface until ready to cook.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop in the gnocchi. When they float to the surface (not long), they’re ready. Drain and set aside.

Add a splash of olive oil to a large frying or sauté pan. Add the gnocchi in batches and gently brown. Set aside. To the same frying pan, add the chopped onion and cook gently until soft. Stir in the grated garlic and sliced courgettes and sauté for a few minutes. Pour in the white wine and reduce by half before pouring in the stock. Simmer for five minutes.  Stir in the cream and cook until thickened, then return the gnocchi to the pan to heat through. Zest the lemon over the pan and squeeze over the juice. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and finish with a drizzle of the basil oil. Serve with grated Parmesan and enjoy alfresco.