Ricotta Dumplings! Comfort Food for Slow Times

As the pace of modern life has slowed to a crawl over the past week, my thoughts have turned often to those who are troubled and fearful due to a world that is and will be fundamentally changed. I have found that everyone is concerned for both the health of our fellow man and our economic life and how best to balance these two concerns during these trying times. And I continue to keep our leaders, health care workers, business owners, friends, family, and neighbors in my thoughts and prayers.

I encourage each of you during this time of imposed slow living to spend minimum time with traditional and social media and immerse yourself in positive activities that support self-sufficiency and positive mental health. Cooking, gardening, crafting, housekeeping, reading, spending time with family, walking, and enjoying nature all contribute to a simple life well lived and can form the basis for contentment and happiness in both good and troubled times.

In fact, I believe that within this dark cloud of uncertainty could very well lay the proverbial silver lining. That silver lining would be that we all take this time of pause to reevaluate what is important in our lives and begin to develop a well-lived life that embraces all that is positive in this modern world but is grounded in the simple activities of the past. This means a life lived within a seasonal perspective that is respectful of our natural world, providing each of us a renewed sense of happiness, self-sufficiency, and hope.

I want to share a recipe that is simple to make but is the basis for a wonderful meal that can be enjoyed alone or with family at home. The kitchen staff at Stonefly Café find this to be a very popular dinner feature served with a simple tomato pan sauce. I have changed up the sauce a bit to showcase the smokiness of the bacon and one of my favorite herbs—fresh rosemary.

I hope that you will enjoy this dish as much as I did when I prepared it for my lunch today.

Please feel free to share this post with all your home-bound friends and neighbors, and I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

All the best to you and yours.

Ricotta Dumplings in a Simple Pan Sauce

Dumplings:

Ingredients:

7 Ounces Ricotta

3 Egg Yolks (may have to kneed in a fourth yolk if you find the dough to be slightly dry)

1 ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour

Additional Flour for dusting the board and hands

2 Tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese

1 Pinch of both Salt and Black Pepper

A generous sprinkle of freshly grated Nutmeg

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix with your hands until the dough comes away from the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Move the dough to a floured board and kneed until it becomes smooth and supple. Cut the dough into approximately six pieces and roll each into a log shape on the floured board with each log of dough approximately ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Cut each log with a knife into ½-inch sections. Dust the cut dumplings lightly with flour and layer on a platter until ready to cook. Do not forget to cover the cut dumplings with a damp dish towel or paper towel to assure that the dumplings do not dry out.

When the sauce is prepared, the dumplings should be added to a large pan of boiling salted water one at a time and stirred to assure that they do not clump together. When they float to the surface, allow to cook for a minute or two longer. Then, they can be added to the sauce.

Sauce:

Ingredients:

3 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, peeled

1 Small Fresh Chili or a Pinch or Two of Dried Chili Flakes

2 Whole Anchovy Filets in Oil

1 Rasher of Bacon

6 to 8 Fresh Rosemary Leaves

1 6-Ounce can of Tomato Paste

1 28-Ounce can of Crushed Tomato

Parmesan Cheese for Grating

Pinch of both Salt and Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method:

Place the garlic, chili, anchovies, salt, pepper, and rosemary with a tablespoon of olive oil in a mortar and pestle and grind into a paste. If you have no mortar and pestle, just finely chop all the ingredients on a board, excluding the olive oil.

In a sauté pan, add olive oil and the rasher of bacon finely chopped and allow to render the fat from the bacon. To this add the paste that you prepared in the mortar and pestle and allow to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook and burn the garlic.

Add to the pan the tomato paste and the crushed tomato and allow to cook for 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, you may allow the sauce to sit off the heat until the dumplings are cooked.

Final Assembly:

Have the sauce simmering in the sauté pan, and when the dumplings have cooked, transfer the dumplings to the saucepan with a slotted spoon allowing some cooking water to be transferred to the sauce as well. Toss the dumplings in the sauce to coat, and if the sauce is a bit thick, just thin with a few spoons of dumpling cooking water.

Plate the dumplings and sauce and sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese over the top to your taste.

Garnish with a fresh spring of rosemary.

Yields two servings.

When combined with a fresh salad, crusty bread and butter, good cheese, fresh fruit, and wine of your choosing, the perfect dinner or lunch is at hand.

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