Spinach Ricotta Dumplings

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I grew up in a Norwegian household.  I know, I know, ricotta is not Norwegian.  I’m not either.  Actually I grew up in a very international home and married a man with an even more international background than myself. I have always loved to cook and Italian is one of my favorites.  If you haven’t tried my penne with vodka sauce (on this blog) you haven’t lived.  My friends daughter asked if she could give the recipe to the caterer for her wedding.

I’m also a big fan of comfort food and nothing comforts me like dumplings.  Any dumpling.  Plain biscuit type, sweet dumplings, German soup dumplings and ricotta is my favorite.

They melt in your mouth and you can eat them so many ways.  My husband loves them rolling in a good marinara sauce, I love them just plain with some sweet butter and my newest creation is to serve them with a browned butter sauce with fresh chopped garlic.  They are wonderful fresh and just as wonderful a day or two later.  Right, like that ever happens.

I make my own ricotta, which is embarrassingly simply, but you can also just use commercially prepared ricotta. Okay friends, let’s begin.

Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Prepare a colander by lining it with a dampened double layer of cheese cloth.  (Wring it out before you line the colander so it is not too wet).  This keeps the cloth from shifting when you are pouring in the cheese.  Set the colander over a bowl or in the sink.
  2. Warm the milk in a heavy pot until it begins to bubble around the edges and steams (About 200°)  Don’t let it boil.
  3. Add the acid (lemon or vinegar) and salt to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon gently until it is combined.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Do not stir.  To check, use a slotted spoon you should see milky curds and yellowy thin water whey.  If the milk has not separated you can add more of your acid or wait a few minutes.  This recipe is very forgiving.
  4. Put the colander in a bowl. Strain the curds by pouring the contents of the pot into the colander.  Let the ricotta drain for 20 minutes to an hour depending how wet you like it or what you are using it for.  If it looks too dry add some of the whey back in, a teaspoon at a time.
  5. Use what you need, or store it in an airtight container.  It will last for up to a week.  It makes about 2 cups.

AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT:

Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 – 10 oz. package of frozen, chopped spinach.  Defrosted and squeezed dry.
  • 1 1/2 cups of ricotta
  • 1 cup of parmessan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of fresh ground nutmeg

Directions

  1.  Throw all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a fork.  You should have a sticky looking dough.  If it looks too wet add a little more flour.  I like to work with the sticky dough, I think the dumplings come out fluffier.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and a Tablespoon of kosher salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Prepare your work surface.  Gather the following:  cookie sheet, cookie dough scoop or a large spoon, extra flour to roll the dumplings in and another cookie sheet to put the dumplings on before you cook them.
  4. Spread a layer of flour on your first cookie sheet.  Take your cookie scoop (I usually spray mine with cooking spray) and plop a scoop of dough on the flour.  Gently roll it in the flour (you are looking to make 24 1-1/2″ balls.) and place on the second cookie sheet. Repeat until they are all rolled in flour.
  5.  When the water is boiling place half of the dumplings in the water.  Don’t crowd them.  If your pot is small do them in three batches.  You will know they are done when they rise to the top about 5-6 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider,  to a clean plate.

You can eat these several ways, with marina, butter and parmessan, maybe a little fresh chopped basil or parsley.  Try them.  Experiment and let me know how you ate them!

Oh, I bet they would be good in soup . . .

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