Light, Simple and Vegetarian, Lemon and Basil Gnudi by Jane Hornby from Fresh and Easy

Hollywood studios have movie franchises like Batman, Harry Potter and Spiderman.

With What to Cook and How to Cook it: Fresh and Easy (Phaidon, Spring 2012), the follow up to What to Cook and How to Cook it, Jane Hornby is on her way to creating her own cookbook franchise.

As she pointed in What to Cook and How to Cook it Interview she gave us in December 2010, breaking each recipes in little digestible pieces with photos illustrating the process will tame anxieties any new cook might have when facing all the ingredients they bought for that dish they craved to prepare.

With Memorial Day week-end approaching in the U.S, the Planning Menu tips (page 340-341) could prove useful with ideas for Summer Dinner Parties to Family Barbecues and Nibbles with Drinks.

As a first taste of Fresh and Easy, I picked a cousin of gnocchi, gnudi.

Lemon & Basil Gnudi

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus at least 1 hour chilling
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4-6 (makes great starter too)

Note: Cousins to potato gnocchi, gnudi are little ricotta dumplings, which are lighter, simpler to make, and a fantastic option for a vegetarian who’s seen it all at dinner tables. If fresh fava (broad beans) are unavailable, boil 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) frozen beans instead, and then remove their pale green skins.

2 ¼ cups (500 g) ricotta cheese, drained of any liquid
1 egg
1bunch fresh basil
1 organic (unwaxed) lemon
4 oz (120 g) Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus plenty more for shaping
½ cup (25 g) fresh white bread crumbs
2 ¼ lb (1 kg) fresh fava beans
2 cloves garlic
6 tbsp (80 g) butter
1 tsp dried chili flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon & Basil Gnudi


1. Put the ricotta and egg into a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop half the basil leaves, add to the mixture, then finely grate in the zest of the lemon and three-quarters of the Parmesan. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt. Reserve the lemon.

2. Beat the ingredients together until smooth, then sift in the flour and add the bread crumbs.

3. Stir the flour and breadcrumbs into the ricotta mixture. Put plenty of flour in a large baking pain or something similar, and have floured plate ready. Spoon a couple of generous teaspoons of the gnudi mixture separately into the flour in the pan, then roll them around in the flour until well coated. Shape the gnudi with dry hands to make a smooth ball or oval. Put onto the floured plate, then repeat with the rest of the mixture. Chill the gnudi for at lest 1 hour, or up to 24 hours. This will firm up the gnudi
and make them ready for cooking.

4. Prepare the fava (broad) beans. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. While it comes to a boil, break the pods and pop the beans out. Discard the pods.

5. Boil the beans for 3 minutes, by which point they should have floated to the top of the pan. Drain in a strainer (sieve) and cool under cold running water, then remove the bright green beans from their pale green skins. Cool under cold running water and set aside for later.

6. When you’re ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large, deep pan of well-salted water to a boil and put some serving plates in a low oven to warm. Add half of the gnudi to the pan (drop in carefully, one at a time, so they won’t stick). They will rise to the surface. Once this has happened, cook for another 2-3 minutes, then lift out and onto warmed plates. Repeat until all of the gnudi are cooked. When ready, the gnudi will feel firm and bounce back when pressed lightly.

7. Just before serving, prepare the buttery sauce. Crush the garlic. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the garlic and chili flakes, then sizzle for one minute.

8. Add the shelled fava beans and remaining basil leaves and splash in a good squeeze of juice from the lemon—the butter will sizzle a little here and turn slightly golden. Season generously.

9. Spoon he garlic and bean butter over the gnudi, then serve with the rest of the Parmesan for grating.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from publisher, excerpted from Fresh and Easy by Jane Hornby - Phaidon Press, Spring 2012- Photographs by Stephen Joyce, Illustrations by Emily Robertson)

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