I had such a satisfying day of cooking yesterday that it makes me feel warm inside every time I think about it! First I made apple chutney (more of that later), then for dinner I made ricotta dumplings with tomato sauce, a dish I discovered watching the fabulous Two Greedy Italians on telly with Antonio Carluccio and Genarro Contaldo. According to the BBC website, where I found the recipe (although I have just discovered it’s on the SBS website too), these dumplings are traditionally made in Contaldo’s home town of Minori, on the Amalfi Coast, on the feast day of the town’s patron saint.
(I’ve added the above photo to get you in the mood. I found it on Google Images and I’ve credited the website that it comes from so I hope I don’t get into trouble. Please excuse the watermark across it – although I bet you didn’t notice that until I pointed it out!)
Having never made fresh pasta before these ricotto dumplings seemed like a fairly simple place to start, but it wasn’t quite as easy as they made it look on TV! You put into a big mixing bowl 200g 00 flour, 225g ricotta, three egg yolks, 30g freshly grated parmesan, salt, pepper and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Work this into a dough with your hand – it will come together eventually. (Watching the TV clip on YouTube again afterwards I noticed that they mixed the ricotta, egg yolks, parmesan and seasoning together a bit before adding the flour which seems like a good idea). Put your dough onto a floured board and knead for three to five minutes. Then, roll your dough into thin sausage shapes and, with a knife, cut into 2cm long pieces. You can sprinkle a little more flour over the dumplings to stop them sticking to the knife.
Before cooking the dumplings, make your sauce. Sautée three thickly sliced garlic cloves and one sliced chili in a good glug of olive oil for about a minute before adding two tins of good quality tinned whole tomatoes, cutting each tomato in half. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for five minutes. Meanwhile, cook your dumplings; the recipe says they take three to four minutes. Tip them into a large pan of salted boiling water. Put the lid on straight away to help bring the water back up to boiling and them remove the lid again. A helpful tip they mention on the TV clip is that once they float to the surface, they need a further two minutes on simmer. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and add them to the tomato sauce. Stir to coat, spoon into hot bowls, garnish with basil leaves and serve with extra parmesan to grate over the top.
I absolutely loved the simplicity of this meal but I’m not sure if my dumplings turned out as they’re meant to be since they were quite solid and doughy. They did say on the program that they would be heavier than their cousin, potato gnochi, but still I felt that they could be improved. Next time (and I can’t wait to make them again!) I’ll put a timer on for the kneading part to make sure I do that for long enough, and I think I’ll cut them a bit smaller. I was delighted with the sauce and couldn’t believe it needed so few ingredients, but I would say that it’s really worthwhile buying the best tinned tomatoes you can for this. I really like the Ardmona ones as they have a lovely thick juice.