Delicately poached in a fresh tomato sauce ready to be devoured with a generous chunk of crusty bread or gently mixed through perfectly al dente spaghetti.
850 gr (2 lb) of fresh tomatoes (or 1 tin of good quality tinned tomatoes)
1-2 shallots (or 1 medium brown onion), finely chopped
4 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – A handful of basil leaves
1 garlic clove, skin on, bashed with back of a knife
1 small celery stick, finely chopped – salt flakes, to taste
For the dumplings
450 g (2 1/2 cups) full-cream ricotta
1 egg – 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes – 1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
100–120gr (2/3 cups) of fresh breadcrumbs
2/3 cup (50 g) freshly grated pecorino – 1 good handful of chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.
Drop in the chopped tomatoes with half a cup of water, season with salt and cook on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside. For a smoother sauce, blitz in a food processor for 4-5 seconds. Scatter some basil leaves on top and set aside.
The mixture needs to feel sticky, but workable. If too dry add a few tablespoons of milk. If too wet, add a little extra cheese or breadcrumbs. Let the mixture sit in the fridge, covered with plastic film, to firm up for 30 minutes or overnight.
Shape the dumplings with wet hands, the size of a golf ball. Place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper and dusted with semolina flour until ready to cook.
Heat up the tomato sugo in a large pot of frying pan. Add a little water if it looks dry. When the sauce comes to a simmer, gently drop in the dumplings. Cover with a lid and let the steam cook them through, for about 5-6 minutes.
Take the lid off and gently, using a wooden spoon, turn them over. They are extremely delicate, so be mindful!
Cook for a further minute, uncovered then turn the heat off.
You can serve them immediately, although I find that they are better the next day, a little firmer in texture and all the flavors harmoniously combined.