Monday, December 7, 2009
I is for Italian
I found this cook book the other day called Perfect Italian, which naturally seemed perfect for Cinnamon seeing as Italian is one of my most favorite types of food ever. I love me some pasta. The boy swears I'm trying to get him to go into a carb coma; and I just might be. I was looking through it this week trying to decide what I was going to make out of it first, and lo and behold, spinach and ricotta dumplings! I love ghnocci, so I'm thinking I must love these!
It's hard to be a vegetarian and not overload on carbs, but this added that spinach and I made a delicious squash on the side, a recipe I picked up from my cousin's girlfriend that she made for Thanksgiving.
Now let me be frank, the ricotta dumplings came with an herb and butter sauce, which was basically a stick of butter, 2 tblspoons of chopped sage, and 2 tblspoons of chopped oregano melted in a pot for about a minute, and poured over the top of the dumplings. I LOVE sage, so I thought that it tasted just fine, but in all honesty and the boy agreed, they were still a little bland. SO maybe adding some herbs and a good amount of salt and pepper to the dumplings dough before cooked would make all the difference.
The other thing; the Italians do not kid around. These things took quite a while to make. They would be a good dish to make on the weekend when you have some time to prep the spinach and whatnot, or you could prep in the morning or night before. I on the other hand, did not read the recipe beforehand (my bad) and started them on a Thursday night at 8:00, meaning we didn't eat til almost 10. I thought I was going to burn the house down near the end, so be prepared. But all in all making them isn't that complicated, there isn't a lot to it.
Here's the recipe for the dumpling dough:
What you'll need:
2 lbs fresh spinach, coarse stalks removed.
1.5 cups of ricotta cheese
1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs, beaten lightly
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
3/4 a cup of all purpose flour (you may need more than this, I did) and extra for dusting
What you do:
Wash the spinach, then place in a pan with just the water clinging to its leaves. Cover and cook on low heat until just wilted. Drain well and set aside to cool.
Squeeze or press out as much liquid as possible from the spinach, then chop finely.
*Seriously, try to get out as much water as you possibly can, I didn't cause I was impatient and had to add like 2 cups of flour to make it in to a dough. You don't want to do this.
Place the spinach in a bowl and add the ricotta, half the parmesan, the eggs, and the nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat until throughly combined. Start by sifting in 3/4 cup of flour and lightly work into the mixture, adding more if necessary, to make a workable doughy mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for 1 hour. (See what I mean about time? This is what you could do the night before and just leave it in the fridge til you needed it)
With floured hands, break off small pieces of the mixture and roll them into small walnut sized balls. Handle them as little as possible, they are delicate. Lightly dust the dumplings with flour.
Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the surface (This recipe is a lot like ghnocci, if you've ever made it). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Make the herb butter, pour over the top of the dumplings and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and serve.
Now for the Super good squash. Take one large yellow acorn squash, cut in half and scoop out the goop. Place face down in a cookie sheet, and pour in about 1 inch of water, just enough to immerse the bottoms of the squash in water. Place in the oven on 350 for about 50 minutes, until they are soft to the touch.
Fill the squash with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar and rub it in until its partially dissolved. Pour over 3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice and fill the rest with a dollop of butter until it melts and then serve. Obviously all of this is done to taste. But it is soooo good. And really easy to do. I have them in the oven right now.