Friday, October 24, 2008
Sometimes, half the enjoyment of cooking is getting messy. The Friendly Veg will admit that these little balls of goodness are a bit time consuming, but is there really anything more satisfying than letting your hands sink into a bowl of warm, gooey ricotta and spinach and then eating the fruits of your (fun) labor? You can also serve these dumplings in broth for a hearty winter soup.
* 2 packages of frozen chopped spinach, completely thawed, and squeezed to remove excess liquid
* 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
* 1 tbsp. parsley
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten (or egg substitute equivalent, like Ener-E)
* 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
* 1/2 cup grated parmesan
* salt & pepper to taste
1) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook garlic for 2 minutes. Stir spinach into the butter and garlic, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in ricotta and parsley and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
2) Place the cooled spinach-ricotta mixture in a large bowl, and add the eggs, flour, parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; mix well. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.
3) Prepare red pepper sauce as detailed below.
4) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Flour your hands, and make 1-inch balls of spinach-ricotta mixture; drop a few of the balls into the simmering water to cook. When dumplings begin to float, remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a plate or on paper towels.
5) Spread 1/3 cup of the roasted red pepper sauce across the bottom of a large pan or baking dish. Place the cooked dumplings into the pan; drizzle with more red pepper sauce, and top with some shredded parmesan or mozzarella. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
* 2 large red bell peppers (to save time, I bought some roasted red peppers from the deli counter)
* 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1 tbsp. paprika
* 3/4 cup creme fraiche, or heavy cream
* salt & pepper to taste
1) If not using roasted peppers, slice the red bell peppers in half, and roast over an open flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes. Place peppers in a paper bag and seal. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop pepper halves.
2) In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium low heat. Add onion and saute until softened. Add the chopped bell peppers and paprika, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add white wine, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cream and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
3) Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, or in a standup blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Add salt & pepper, and keep warm in saucepan until ready to use.