The star of this recipe is the ricotta and silver beet (Swiss chard) gnocchi with the tomato and borlotti bean sauce. The duck element is purely optional and can be replaced with another meat/poultry or even left out entirely as the gnocchi and sauce are delicious just on their own. I was making this for a dinner party and wanted to include a meat element to make it a more substantial main meal, hence the addition of the roasted duck breasts. Unlike potato gnocchi which can be tricky to get right, these ricotta gnocchi are very forgiving and almost foolproof. I’m a big fan of meals where everything can be prepared in advance, especially when entertaining, and this was perfect as I was able to make and form the gnocchi in the morning. I also prepared the sauce ahead of time so all that was required when it came time to serve was to bring the sauce to a boil and add the gnocchi. The duck breasts of course need to be cooked at the last minute but they don’t take long and don’t require too much attention. The dish is finished off with a generous drizzle of basil infused oil which brings all the elements together. Whilst this makes an impressive meal for entertaining it’s straightforward enough to make for the family and as I mentioned above you can replace the duck with anything you choose or leave it out entirely – next time I might pair it with some seafood such as a crisp skinned fish fillet or seared prawns and scallops.
Ingredients – Serves 4 Adapted from Delicious Magazine
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
Pinch of chilli flakes
1kg vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups fresh borlotti beans – you can use rinsed and drained canned beans if you can’t find fresh
½ cup basil leaves
2 duck breasts – use 3 if they are small, seasoned with salt and pepper and the skin finely scored
2 teaspoons olive oil extra
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ricotta & Silver Beet Gnocchi
300g silver beet (Swiss chard) leaves, stems removed, blanched and finely chopped
1 cup (200g) fresh ricotta
2⁄3 cup finely grated fresh parmesan, plus extra to serve
2⁄3 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
To make the gnocchi, place the silver beet, ricotta, parmesan, flour, eggs, a large pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until a sticky dough forms. Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and set aside on a floured tray. The gnocchi can be prepared in advanced and kept covered in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock and borlotti beans. Season with salt and bring to the boil and cook for 25 minutes. If you’re using canned beans add the beans in the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
Preheat oven to 190C. While the sauce is cooking make the duck; place an oven proof skillet over a medium flame and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place the duck skin side down into the pan and let it cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes or until the skin of the duck is nicely browned. Turn the duck breast over and place the pan into the preheated oven and cook for a further 8 minutes (for medium rare). Remove the duck to a carving board to rest for 5 minutes then slice thickly.
When the sauce is ready add the gnocchi and cook, covered for 6-8 minutes or until firm. Place the basil and remaining oil in a small food processor, season with salt and process until finely chopped. To serve, place some of the gnocchi and sauce onto each plate and arrange some duck slices in and around the sauce/gnocchi, then drizzle with the basil oil.