One of the reasons Sis Blogging Partner and I wanted to review recipes here is to get a better understanding of recipes. I can’t remember anymore how many times I’ve come across directions in a recipe and wondered what the heck was meant by them. And been unsure how to proceed. We could look at exhibit A: Making a Caramel, in many experiments on this site…and I still couldn’t successfully make a caramel from scratch. Anyway, the point is, sometimes it boils down to (pun intended) knowing when to boil water and when to just let it simmer, or almost boil. Boiling is actually a lot easier. It’s like the let ‘er rip of the kitchen.
While reading reviews for this recipe, I almost decided not to try it because it seemed to many the dumplings were hard to make. They fell apart while in the water. I think the problem is as another reviewer stated – you’ve really got to simmer these, not boil them. If your water is at all boiling, back the heat down a little and wait. It’s worth the effort – these were great!
The filling is just some creamy ricotta – yum – a little flour, eggs and Parmesan cheese. One Food Network reviewer suggested some minced garlic and I can see the appeal in that though we didn’t use it. Next time for sure!
The original directions say to first shape a spoonful of the ricotta mixture in your lightly floured hands, but we eventually found that plopping it onto the flour on the plate first, then rolling it i our hands, worked even better. So roll it in the flour first, then shape it a little in your hands. The thing is, they are so soft that they’re going to get bent out of shape (literally!) just sitting on the plate waiting to be cooked. It doesn’t matter. Nobody said they had to be perfectly round.
Soon you’ve got a cute mess of dumplings, ready to be simmered! If you put a pile of flour to roll them in the middle of a platter, just rest them around the platter edge as you go for ease.
Kidlet literally just told me I need to make these for Halloween. L to the O to the L! I can’t disagree with her. They really aren’t the prettiest of foods at this point. No worries, though. We’ll dump them in some marinara soon and nobody will care what they resemble. I hope! But look, it’s cheese, more cheese and marinara. Who could complain? I mean, besides my child?
As you remove the dumplings with your slotted spoon, ease them into your already heated marinara sauce. I fully admit I love the Barilla brand and keep it in the pantry for recipes like this.
This was a really fun, albeit messy, recipe to make. It can work great as a first course. These little guys are pretty rich! Or they can be a good light dinner….light as in, you’re not going to consume the whole plate. Right? Maybe not? Anywho! Really tasty, fun to make and they work just fine if you keep that water to a simmer. Enjoy!
Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings
from Food Network Magazine via Food Network
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes per batch Level: Easy Makes: about 24 dumplings depending on size
- Kosher salt
- 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 large eggs
- Freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Crusty bread, for serving
Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a simmer. Put the spinach in a large bowl and separate it with your hands. Add the ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, the flour, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg. Mix with a fork to form a slightly sticky dough.
Spread some flour on a plate. Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of the spinach-ricotta mixture and roll into about 24 loose balls using floured hands. Gently roll the balls in the flour.
Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the butter.
Meanwhile, gently lower the dumplings into the simmering water and cook until they rise to the surface and are firm, about 5 minutes. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain off, and add to the sauce. Gently toss to coat, then transfer to plates and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Serve with bread.
The hardest part of the recipe is getting all that damn water out of the frozen spinach. Even if you opted to use regular spinach and saute it down, you’ll still have to remove a lot of water. I first mashed our frozen spinach in a colander in the sink with a potato masher, trying to get as much initial water out that way first. Then I rolled about a third of the spinach at a time in clean, dry paper towels till I just could bear it anymore. This resulted in fairly squeezed out spinach. It takes a little while to do, but you don’t want any more water in your ricotta mixture than necessary. Once that’s done, though – it’s all easy!
When simmering the dumplings, just let them come to the surface by themselves. Some popped up almost right away, others took about a minute. After come to the surface, you can give them a gentle stir every so often if you wish to get them to cook evenly.
Also while simmering, your water’s going to get cloudy if you need to do the dumplings in batches. I have a fairly big soup pot we were using, but we still did them only about 6-7 dumplings at a time. The cloudiness comes from the flour they’re rolled in. Watch that your water temperature doesn’t dip too much once the dumplings are added. It’s probably still hot enough to cook them, but I bumped the temp up just slightly after adding the first batch and this seemed to help keep the water at the right temperature.