I’m probably going to spend the next few days playing catch up on recipes we’ve tried in the last few weeks. As I’ve only taken pictures of the good ones this will likely lull you, the reader, into a false sense of my being some kind of whizz in the kitchen.
However I can assure you, this is not the case. The other night’s baked egg casserole which most definitely resembled warm sick and not anything remotely edible, is testament to this fact. With this meatless business I’m very much out of my depth. I feel like I am completely re-learning to cook, and I was getting quite good for a while… even if I do say so myself.
The first recipe we tried was ricotta dumplings with a simple tomato sauce. The recipe was selected by the seven year old from the BBC Good Food website, and can be found by following the link at the bottom of this post. I wasn’t sure whether I could reproduce it here, so I erred on the side of caution. I don’t need to be done for copyright infringement before I’ve even started thank you very much.
The dumplings are more or less a cheesy version of gnocchi and were surprisingly easy to make. I amended the recipe slightly by accident, I used 250g of ricotta because I dumped a whole tub in before I realised the recipe only called for 225g. I’m not the best at reading instructions. I also omitted the nutmeg because I didn’t have any. To balance out the accidental cheese overdose I used two egg yolks instead of three. The dumplings luckily still ended up the right texture. At least, I assume they were the right texture.
This is definitely a recipe the kids can get involved in helping with. The seven year old and the five year old took control of the mixing and the kneading and the rolling the pieces into little balls. I ended up with floury small people footprints through the house and an extra load of washing, but that’s a different story.
Cooking them was pretty straight forward too, dump them in boiling water and they sink, rising to the top when they are ready. I seemed to end up with quite a lot of dumplings, so I did them in about three batches. As they cook so quickly, the first batch was still warm when the last batch was done.
To my dismay, I’ve since learnt Parmesan is not vegetarian as its made with rennet, an enzyme taken from a cows stomach. So if you’re going to try this one, look for ‘Italian hard cheese’ instead.
I made the sauce by gently heating a good glug of olive oil in a saucepan, then throwing in four decent sized vine tomatoes (chopped up), with a bit of salt and pepper to season. I let the tomatoes simmer for about ten minutes or so. Once they had broken down and were looking vaguely saucy I chucked in a clove of minced garlic and some fresh basil, stirred it through and let it simmer for about another minute. The link also has a recipe for a similar sauce using canned tomatoes, but I’m not fond of the metallicky taste they have so I didn’t try it.
To serve, I spooned the sauce over the ricotta dumplings with wilted spinach, plenty of extra parmesan, and whole pine nuts. Of course the kids picked the spinach out. The weirdos love kale but spinach is not something they will entertain.
The whole family loved this one, and I definitely see us eating it regularly. The seven year old gave it 10 out of 10 and the five year old gave it 100 million and infinity. In all honesty, carnivore me didn’t even notice the lack of meat.
Cost-wise, the meal came in under £10. It would probably have come in under £5 if it weren’t for the pine nuts. I think for future blog posts I’ll try and work out some kind of rating system for taste, cost, kid-friendliness etc.
The recipe for the dumplings can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/ricotta_dumplings_01916