Celebrating summer

celebrating summer-4551After doing a lot of travelling in the past months, I’m now settling down. The lived experiences prevail rumouring wildly in my mind and soul.
I’ve been remembering the gorgeous days I spend in March on Sicily. Only three months have passed since then but it seems to me it was an eternity ago.
I see radiant green wavy fields.
The busy sheep don’t care a stranger is approaching. They are devouring tons of blades of grass with the same despair a baby sucks milk from the breast of his mother. At this sight it is obvious why Sicilian ricotta tastes heavenly.
Promptly an urban image appears in my vision. The market stalls in Palermo are overfilled with pilled fleshy tomatoes. They will do perfect for a luminant tomato sauce.
I imagine little white clouds floating in a calm red sea.
Tiny herbs are swinging under the tender sun in Fabrizia’s garden at Case Veccie while waiting to be picked and sprinkled on a steaming dish.
The surrounding buildings look rundown and deteriorated but at the same time friendly and warm. White lining hanging from the balconies. Sweet beguiling smell escaping out of open windows inviting for lunch.
I’m urged to revive the scenery that played in my mind. The best way of doing it, is preparing my beloved ricotta gnocchi with tomato sauce.

By cooking ricotta gnocchi once again I celebrate summer and pay homage to the southern cookery.
The taste of these light and soft dumplings brings me back to Sicily.
At the moment I place their tender dough in my mouth the fluffy clouds melt on my tongue. They are completely different to the extended potato gnocchi. Not to compare.
Sicilian cooking was strongly influenced by Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Spaniards. But I’m almost certain that ricotta gnocchis haven’t been brought from abroad. Because of their simplicity and use of only few local ingredients I’m definite sure their origin is purely Sicilian.
Ricotta can be made from either ovine (sheep or goat) or cow’s milk.
Despite I’d prefer the delicate and rich flavour of ovine ricotta, I sadly don’t have the choice. Anyhow, I’m highly pleased with the lighter consistence of the cow’s milk variation I can buy on the market in Düsseldorf.
I gently whisk with my fingers fresh ricotta, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, flour and one egg yolk to a malleable and sticky dough. I form quickly a long serpent sprinkling with flour according to demand. I cut small pillows which I drop carefully into simmering salted water. At first they sink into the bottom but unexpectedly they happily rise one by one to the surface.
I serve them in a sea of fresh tomato sauce, tossed with some finely grated parmesan and topped with a mountain of fresh basil.
In Italy, gnocchi are eaten as a primo piatto. I admit, as I cannot keep my temper by the exciting thought of enjoying ricotta gnocchi, I always eat a bowl of them as a main course. I hope Italians can forgive my peccadillo.
I wish the taste of these smooth white cushions allow your thoughts to move to fair and warm sites.

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