ricotta gnocchi with pesto, shrimp and asparagus

last night we had our friend oliver over, and i wanted to make a new twist on something i’ve tried before – gnocchi made with ricotta cheese, instead of the traditional potato. i had found a recipe online that featured gnocchi with pesto and chopped shrimp, and it sounded absolutely delicious – i really wanted to combine it with the ricotta gnocchi i’d made a few months ago, and it turned out really nicely. (it’s also completely vegetarian – this one’s for you, cate!) i served this with a spinach and arugula salad, and an individual chocolate soufflé for dessert – it’s the post right below this one, if you want to make the whole meal.

the gnocchi are not complicated to make, but you can certainly buy them pre-made and frozen if you don’t have time to make your own. likewise, i would encourage you to make your own pesto for the sauce – i didn’t have time to do both, but i’ll make it at some point to post here.

you will need:
16 ounces of ricotta cheese
1 large egg
3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chopped asparagus (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 pound shrimp, no skin or tails, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp basil pesto


in a big bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, salt, lemon juice, flour, basil, and parmesean cheese. top with salt and pepper and mix well.
cover with saran wrap and pop it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes. once it’s chilled, pull this out and check on the texture – you want it to be easy to roll, not tacky. if it feels sticky, mix in additional flour until it reaches the right consistency. stick it back into the refrigerator for another 15 minutes, or until you’re ready for the next step.
put a large pot of water onto the stove and bring to a boil, adding a few pinches of salt. grab a large plate and keep it next to your workspace to stack the gnocchi on.
sprinkle flour onto your work surface. unwrap your chilled dough and grab a medium-sized ball, about the size of a tennis ball.
roll the dough out until it’s a long tube, about an inch thick.
use a sharp knife, and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces. stack these on your plate, and repeat with the entire batch of dough.
for the sauce, put your chopped shrimp and asparagus into a large saucepan with a bit of olive oil.
throw in some salt and pepper, and add the pesto. stir well and bring to medium heat. let this simmer for a few minutes until the shrimp are cooked and the asparagus is crunchy, then bring down to low heat.
to cook the gnocchi, drop about 10 into the pot of boiling water. they will initially sink to the bottom.
keep an eye on these – once they float to the top, let them cook for 2 more minutes, then remove from the water.
when the gnocchi are out of the water, put them right into the saucepan with the shrimp and asparagus. let the gnocchi get covered in the pesto, and keep them in the pan until all the gnocchi are cooked and mixed in.
get everything into a serving dish, top with some extra parmesean cheese and chopped basil, and serve immediately (preferably with a delicious sauvignon blanc).
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