Ricotta Dumplings with Tomato Sugo
This is another Silvia Colloca gem not to be confused with my favourite Ricotta and Parmesan Dumplings, which are more like gnocchi. These are apparently called gnudi and are a bit lighter again. I like to add some blanched spinach which has been squeezed and then chopped for some extra veg. The nutmeg gives these are warming tasty edge so don’t be shy. A very comforting little dish all year round. Serve with some lovely crusty bread.
For the Sugo:
850g fresh tomatoes (or 1 large tin of good quality tinned tomatoes, or your own Passata)
1-2 shallots (or 1 medium brown onion), finely chopped
4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, bashed with back of a knife
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
salt flakes, to taste
a handful of basil leaves
For the dumplings:
450g full-cream ricotta
½ teaspoon salt flakes
1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
2/3 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
2/3 cup freshly grated pecorino
1 good handful of chopped parsley
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
semolina flour for dusting
To make the sauce, wash the tomatoes, score the top gently with a knife and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minutes. Plunge them into cold water to allow the skin to come off easily. Peel the tomatoes, chop them roughly and set aside. Or, open up your bottle of passata!
Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Stir fry the shallots, celery and the garlic on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the shallots turn translucent and slightly golden and the garlic smells fragrant. Drop in the chopped tomatoes with half a cup of water (or tinned tomatoes/passata, if using), season with salt and cook on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside. For a smoother sauce, blitz in a food processor for 4-5 seconds. Scatter some basil leaves on top and set aside.
To make the dumplings, mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture needs to feel sticky, but workable. If too dry add a few tablespoons of milk. If too wet, add a little extra cheese or breadcrumbs. Let the mixture sit in the fridge, covered with plastic film, to firm up for 30 minutes or overnight.
Shape the dumplings with wet hands, the size of a golf ball. Place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper and dust with semolina flour until ready to cook.
Heat up the tomato sugo in a large pot or frying pan. Add a little water if it looks dry. When the sauce comes to a simmer, gently drop in the dumplings. Cover with a lid and let the steam cook them through, for about 5-6 minutes. Take the lid off and gently, using a wooden spoon, turn them over. They are extremely delicate, so be mindful! Cook for a further minute, uncovered then turn the heat off.
You can serve them immediately, although I find that they are better the next day, a little firmer in texture and all the flavours harmoniously combined.