Our next Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s October 26, 2010 show from Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. Join us on the couch this Tuesday at 8:30pm ET at webcast.livephish.com.
For the dinner portion of this month’s episode, we offer Gnudi (light ricotta dumplings) perched atop a Pomodoro Sauce with Pizzicati “Pinched” Cookies for dessert. Recipes can be found below.
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16 oz ricotta (about 2 cups)
4 egg yolks, beaten
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
¼-½ cup frozen spinach (or ¼-½ lb fresh spinach)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup flour, plus more for rolling dumplings
Pinch of nutmeg
Pomodoro sauce Ingredients: (you can also buy a jar if you want to simplify)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferable San Marzano)
¼ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small (or ½ large) yellow onion, finely chopped
A punch of white sugar
¼ tsp dried oregano
A few pinches of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
Optional: additional veggies like asparagus (cut off bottom of spears, then cut each into 3-4 segments, on the diagonal) or mushrooms (thinly slice 2 large handfuls of white, crimini or shitake).
Put ricotta in a colander or strainer and set over a bowl to drain while you prepare other ingredients. Less water means you’ll need less flour which means you’ll have lighter, fluffier dumplings. Let strain for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Prepare your spinach. Whether frozen or fresh, sauté to soften, then squeeze well to wring out as much water as you can. Chop well.
Set a large pot of salted water on to reach a gentle rolling boil, then turn down until it’s just simmering so the gnudi will cook more gently. Make a large bowl of ice water to shock the gnudi when they’re done cooking.
In a medium bowl, mix the drained ricotta, chopped spinach, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs together. Mix in ½ cup of flour until a dough forms. Don’t over mix.
Put remaining flour on a plate or cutting board. Make one ball slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. Handle it gently, don’t roll it forcefully or it will get dense. It doesn’t need to be perfectly round. Gently toss it in the flour. Put on a slotted spoon and lower into the gently boiling water. When it floats to the surface (about 4 minutes), pull it out with the slotted spoon and lower into the ice water for just a moment. Taste it! It should have enough flour to hold together, but be soft and fluffy enough it’s not tough or rubbery. If it’s falling apart as it boils add a little more flour to your mixture before forming the rest of the gnudi.
Form the rest of the mixture to balls. Set them in the fridge to chill while you prepare your sauce (see below).
Cook the gnudi in batches, lowering into the simmering water with the slotted spoon (avoid having them too crowded in your boiling water). Once they float (about 4 minutes), shock them in ice water and then set aside and drizzle with olive oil to avoid sticking together while you prepare the rest.
Heat oil in a skilled and sauté onion until softened, 6-8 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. If adding other vegetables to the sauce such as sliced mushrooms or asparagus add them as this step too.
Add tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar, bring to a low simmer for a few minutes until heated through and additional veggies are just softened.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the gnudi.
Add basil to the sauce just before serving.
To serve: make a pool of sauce on each plate and put 3-4 gnudi on top. Sprinkle additional grated parmesan on top. You can garnish with extra fresh basil, and add another turn of freshly ground black pepper. Buon appetito!
Pizzicati “Pinched” Cookies
Makes about 15 cookies
¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup + 1 tablespoons powdered sugar (75 grams)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Optional: ¼ tsp lemon zest
1 small pinch of salt
½ large egg (beat an egg, then use half of it, or approx. 2 TBSP)
¼ cup butter, softened to room temperature, and cut into small chunks.
⅓ cup jam (thicker jam is better than thinner, but any flavor will do) and/or nutella
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest (if you’re using). (You can also use a food processor or stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
Make a well in the middle, and add the egg and butter. Mix until it’s just combined. Do not over mix.
Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it gently until it’s soft and smooth. Form the dough into a ball, then press it down into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it’s fine to make the dough the day before and refrigerate overnight too).
Next, we’re going to roll the dough out to approximately ¼” thick (like pie dough). Dust your surface with flour to avoid it sticking. You may want to work in batches, using half the dough for each. (If the dough cracks as you start to roll it out, it may need a minute or two to soften from the refrigerator before rolling.)
Using a round cookie cutter (or an upside down glass), cut out circles about 2.5” in diameter.
Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Then pull up two sides of the circle over the filling, dip your finger in water and paint the inside seam, then pinch them together solidly. (The water helps the dough stick together while baking.)
Put cookies on the prepared cookie sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (Chilling here helps them hold their shape while baking.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes. They will look pale, or just beginning to brown. Do not overbake. Let them cool completely, then dust with a little powdered sugar before serving. Store extras in an airtight container for up to 4 days