Gnochetti with Grana Padano PDO cheese, broad beans, courgettes and flowers and lemon

Not traditional but truly Italian, that’s often my motto.

Fresh gnocchetti made with durum wheat flour instead of potatoes, classic from many regions in south of Italy and served with a dressing obtained by melting the Grana Padano PDO cheese with the hot pasta water and a mix of summer vegetables.

Colourful, healthy and pretty tasty too!!

Serves: 4 people

Preparation Time: 40 minutes


300 g of grated Grana Padano PDO cheese

1 lemon

1 courgette

4 courgette flowers

200 g of broad beans off the pod

1 sprig of fresh herbs (could be basil, mint, chives)

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

Salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta

500 g of semola flour (durum wheat flour)

300 ml of warm water

Extra flour to dust

A pinch of salt


To prepare the pasta, mix the water with the flour gradually. You can do this either on the table creating a flour well or in a bowl. When the ingredients start to bind together, knead with your hands with energy. Remember, during this step it is important to stretch and pull your dough while kneading to allow the flour’s gluten to start working and therefore obtain and elastic dough. After a few minutes of working, it will slowly come together and result in a smooth and homogeneous dough. If your dough feels too sticky to your hands, feel free to add a touch of flour; if too dry and not binding, you can add a splash of water.

When ready, wrap your dough in film and leave to rest for about 30 minutes, this will allow the dough to ‘relax’ and not be too elastic when shaping your pasta.

Slice thick strips of pasta and then with the palm of your hands roll them on the table to thin them out. Press gently and while you do that also move your hands apart from each other.

Cut the strips obtained into 2 cm nuggets.

Now press each nugget with your thumb each nugget and while doing this, also let it roll under your thumb. This movement till make the little dough ball curl over your thumb creating a nice little groove.

There you have it, you made your first gnocchetto.

Proceed with all the dough and place the already shaped gnocchetti on a floured tray.

If you keep the fresh gnocchetti in the fridge for a couple of days,make sure they are properly dusted with flour. Alternatively, you can freeze them in sealed boxes and cook them straight from frozen into boiling water.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the grated cheese with just a touch of hot water (not boiling, not salted). Mix with a spatula until the cheese and water combine into a paste. This step will help the cheese not to split when mixed with the hot pasta. Remember, you can add more cheese to the paste if too watery (or the water was too hot!) and you can also add more water to the paste if it is not coming together.

Blanch and cool the broad beans in ice water. Chop the courgette and pan fry it very quickly with little oil and garlic. You want them to be crunchy and bright. Remove the stem and pistils from the flowers and cut in 4. Now dress the veg with olive oil and a little salt and keep them on the side.

Drop the gnocchetti in salted boiling water and cook until al dente (you want them to be cooked but still with a little bite).

Now drain the pasta and make sure to save some cooking water. Put the pasta straight into the bowl with the cheese paste and mix to coat well. Add the veggies and mix well. Add freshly ground black pepper and taste to check the seasoning. If necessary, add more cheese if you want it more powerful and add more pasta water (not boiling) to loosen up the dressing.

When creamy and you are happy with the taste, plate and garnish with lemon zest and fresh herbs leaves.

Recipe by Danilo Cortellini