You can serve these with a light hollandaise, a creamy fresh tomato sauce, pea puree or on their own as a drinks party canapé. I served it as a starter with a warm pea, baby shelled broad bean and pearl onion salad as shown below (some ragged pieces of prosciutto would have been a welcome addition too for meat eaters). Not bad…especially with a squeeze of lemon and a glass of ice cold dry white wine in the sunshine.
Makes about 20 small dumplings
1 Tub (250g) Ricotta cheese
½ Cup loosely packed, chopped fresh herbs (a mixture of basil, marjoram and oregano works best, but flat leaf parsley, chervil, and very fresh soft thyme are good too)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half lemon
Large pinches of sea salt and black pepper
1 Clove crushed garlic
6 TBSPS fine breadcrumbs
1 Beaten egg
Vegetable oil and/or olive oil for cooking
Mix all the ingredients except the last two together until well combined. Check the seasoning and whether it is ‘lemony’ enough, and add more salt and pepper and/or lemon juice if desired. Now mix in your beaten egg until completely combined and then slowly add your breadcrumbs, tablespoon by tablespoon. You don’t want a very stiff mix, but just solid enough to be able to form soft dumplings. The softer they are, the more delicate the end result will be, but also remember that if they are too soft, you will not be able to form quenelles (three sided dumplings), and they will spread when you cook them.
Leave the mixture in the fridge for fifteen minutes to firm up a little. When they are cold they are also easier to form shapes with and tend to hold together better as you cook.
Take two identical teaspoons, and gently form quenelles by sliding the mixture from one spoon to another, using the spoons to create three smooth sides. They don’t have to be perfect and if you find it too difficult you can simply make little balls and give them a squash to make more rustic style patties.
Cook them in a non-stick frying pan in about ½ cm of oil. I use half vegetable oil and half olive oil. Put the oven on at about 130C, and get a paper towel covered oven tray ready to receive the fried dumplings. Have the heat on low, and when oil is piping hot, place the dumplings in the pan carefully in small batches. Cook each side for about 30 seconds, or until nice and golden. Drain on paper towel and place in the oven to keep warm while you make the next batch.
Serve three or four dumplings as a starter, more as a main with salad or petit pois (as above), or have them as a pre-dinner snack. Either way they didn’t last long in our house and were a big hit with our small person.
By the way…
The salad underneath was simply defrosted baby peas and broad beans (shelled) blanched for a few seconds, mixed with pan fried pearl onions and tossed together with salt, pepper, good olive oil and a couple of pinches of lemon zest. Seriously…that simple.