There are numerous versions of gnocchi in Italy. For the one here, a flour-based dough of ricotta and mashed pumpkin, flavoured with sage and Parmesan cheese, is shaped into the little dumplings. A colourful roasted pepper and onion sauce completes the dish. Serve with a baby spinach and watercress salad.
Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.
Like other cheeses, ricotta is a good source of calcium. In addition, it offers good quantities of phosphorus, another mineral involved in ensuring bones and teeth are healthy. Phosphorus is also important in the release of energy from food. * Pumpkin has a high water content, which makes it particularly low in calories – just 15 kcal per 100 g (3½ oz). * Puréed vegetable sauces such as this are delicious low-fat dressings for pasta.
For ricotta and fresh herb gnocchi, combine 250 g (8½ oz) ricotta cheese, 85 g (3 oz) finely chopped rocket, 20 g (¾ oz) finely chopped parsley, 3 tbsp snipped fresh chives, 1 beaten egg and 30 g (1 oz) freshly grated pecorino cheese. Add 200 g (7 oz) plain flour, 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix to a soft dough. Shape and cook as in the main recipe. Serve with a roasted tomato sauce: toss 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) small plum tomatoes and 2 garlic cloves in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, then roast in a preheated 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6) oven for 20–25 minutes. Purée until smooth, and season to taste.
A, C, calcium * B1, E, zinc * B2, B6, B12, folate, niacin, copper, iron, potassium