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Crab and ricotta gnudi with lemon butter and pea shoots

Hello summer! Despite the fact that it’s not exactly tropical here in London at the moment, the long light evenings are definitely making me feel like summer has arrived. There’s something about eating dinner whilst it’s still daylight that always feels a bit wrong somehow. I find myself eating later and later as the evenings get progressively longer, waiting for my appetite to finally kick in at dusk. Eventually it will get to the point where I can’t practically wait any longer, so I’ll compromise with something light to eat, like these little crab and ricotta gnudi.

These little dumplings somehow manage to meet the criteria for a light supper, despite their predominantly cheese based filling. I’ve made these before, but just the more usual ricotta and parmesan ones. This time I was feeling experimental, so I added crab in the place of parmesan and was pretty pleased with the result.

These really are a bit of kitchen magic. Little dollops of crab and ricotta, dropped unceremoniously into a sandpit of semolina, transform into dumplings overnight in the fridge. The semolina absorbs some of the moisture from the filling to form a delicate skin, like a thin layer of pasta, so they end up akin to a very well filled ravioli, although with much less work involved.

Apart from the overnight rest in the fridge, these are really very quick and easy – just 10 minutes prep the night before and another 10 minutes when you’re ready to eat.

So, the night before you want to eat these, mix 300g ricotta and 100g crab meat in a bowl. I used a mix of light and dark meat. Add a good pinch of salt and a little black pepper, plus a few soft herbs – I used lemon thyme leaves since I have a pot on the back doorstep. The mixture will be pretty soft and sticky.

Cover a baking tray in a generous layer of semolina – about 200g. Take 2 teaspoons and scoop up small amounts of the mixture, passing from spoon to spoon to form a neat-ish ball. You can probably tell from the pictures that mine were far from round, but the shape isn’t that important. Drop them into the semolina and then generously sprinkle some of the excess over the top. Put the tray uncovered into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to eat, bring a large pan of water to the boil. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan when you cook these, so use a really big wide pan, or cook them in a couple of batches. Dust the excess semolina off the gnudi to reveal the delicate skin underneath. Drop them into the pan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or so, until they float to the surface.

Meanwhile, pare a few strips of zest off a lemon with a vegetable peeler. Melt a greedily large knob or two of butter in a frying pan and add the lemon zest. Once the gnudi float to the surface, fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them straight into the sizzling lemon butter. Stir gently to coat for a minute then tip into a bowl ready to eat. Sprinkle over some pea shoots and eat immediately.

I made 14 out of this quantity of mixture, which was plenty for two (although I must admit that my ever fish-suspicious husband wasn’t the biggest fan of these – it was a bit of a gamble – so I ate most of them in the end)

Shopping list:

100g mixed crab meat

300g ricotta

200g semolina

lemon thyme or other soft herbs

1 lemon

plenty of butter

pea shoots

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