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Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto

Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto

With Valentine’s Day just one week away, we’ve been working up a few ideas for those of you looking to celebrate. We ended up finding two entrees that fit the bill — seasonal and simple, yet with enough kitchen time to make for an activity to spend time with a loved one (or two or three).

We were set with roasted red pepper pesto linguine with kale as our Valentine’s Day meal of choice, when on a whim we decided to try out these ricotta dumplings (or “gnudi”, as they are called in the original recipe). They turned out so delicious we had to share them with you.

These dumplings are similar to gnocchi, but are made with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes. You can spend the time you might have spent cooking potatoes whipping up a kale pesto instead (shown here with kale from the lovely Anita of Homestead Growers). The dumplings come out light and airy, and combined with this flavorful pesto, they’re a novel treat for a special meal.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We’re usually hit or miss, but this year we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, my birthday and belated Christmas on a family trip to Las Vegas! We can’t wait to try out restaurants from some of our favorite chefs – as well as enjoy the 60-degree weather.

We’ve posted these Valentine’s Day ideas to give you a bit of advanced planning time — and check out the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market this weekend if you’re an Indy local to shop for ingredients! We suggest pairing this meal with Beet, Kale and Kohlrabi Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette, and some chocolate for dessert.

Kale Pesto
Serves: 1 cup
What You Need
  • 2 cups kale leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
What To Do
  1. Grate ½ cup Parmesan cheese and set aside. Wash the kale, remove the stems, and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 4 cloves garlic, 2 cups kale, and ⅓ cup walnuts. Pulse 5 to 6 times until the ingredients are chopped finely but are not mushy.
  3. Add ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 pinches kosher salt, 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, and ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar to the food processor, then turn it on and add ½ cup olive oil in a steady stream.

Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto
Serves: 4
What You Need
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup kale pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
What To Do
  1. In a large bowl, whisk 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. Add ricotta cheese, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and mix until well combined. Add ½ cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball; add more flour as necessary if the dough is too wet (we added ¾ cup flour total).
  2. To make the dumplings, using two people is helpful. Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Use 2 large soup spoons to shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, and then place them on the baking sheet. Then roll the dumplings with more flour so that they are fully coated (results in around 30 dumplings).
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the dumplings, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes. (Note: The dumpling will quickly float to surface, but continue cooking for the entire 5 to 6 minutes until they are fully cooked).
  4. Drain the dumplings, then return them to the pan. Add ½ cup kale pesto, a few drizzles olive oil, ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a bit of kosher salt. Gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.
Adapted from Bon Appetit


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  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    February 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

    This is such a neat recipe! Great idea!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I made my first homemade gnocchi a couple of weeks ago, and man alive, were they good. I love the idea of ricotta in place of potato. These sound fantastic!

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Yes — we love gnocchi too! It’s a bit easier to make with ricotta :)

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    So does this mean no surprise Valentine’s Day recipe? We may give these a try since your paella was such a hit last year.

    Hope you guys have a blast in Vegas.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Haha! Yes, so sorry to not have a surprise meal this year! But thanks for the reminder — we may have to make one just for you!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    These sound like the perfect romantic dinner, especially since all parties will have the same level of garlic breath afterward. :) I forgot about kale pesto! Must make some.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Haha! Yes, the garlic breath level certainly is the test for a good meal :)

  • Reply
    jenn in GA
    February 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    hi! i am checking out the rest of your recipes after being delighted by the raw brownies you concocted in Sept. amazing!
    just wondering if you think these gnudi could be made using almond flour instead of wheat flour.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Good question! We have not worked much with almond flour, but I would think it would work as a substitute! Let us know if you try it out!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 5:15 am

    I love ricotta gnocchi, it’s one of my go-to meals especially when I’m short of time because it doesn’t take much more than 10 minutes to get it from raw ingredients to the plate! Such a lovely combination with the kale pesto too.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’d be delighted if you did another surprise meal. Even more so if I knew I was your inspiration :-)

  • Reply
    Meghan {For the Love of Dessert}
    February 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I’m not sure which sounds better.. the pesto or the ricotta dumplings!? Wow.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I’m going to try these with goat cheese instead of ricotta. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how much I might use. I’ll report back with my results!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Sounds like a great idea! I guess I’d start with the same amount of cheese as the ricotta, and see where that takes you (and then add enough flour to make them just come together into a dough). Excited to see how they turn out!

  • Reply
    Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen
    February 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Cool! I’d love to try these and I’m a little jealous of the warm weather, although it’s been warming up a little here in WI, so I can’t complain too much!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I made these tonight. Super yummy! As I was putting it together I realized that in the directions for the pesto you forgot to mention adding the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar! It was not a problem since ultimately it’s all mixed together, but I figured you would like to know.

    • Reply
      February 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you, Emily! I appreciate you letting us know – I’ve updated the recipe! And I’m so glad you enjoyed them! :)

  • Reply
    March 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I made these tonight and they were so delicious! They were the type of thing I would expect at a good Italian restaurant, and I’m so glad I was able to make them at home!

    • Reply
      March 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      I’m so glad these worked for you — we’re huge dumpling fans too :) So glad they were an easy way to have restaurant quality cooking in your own home!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    After trying your tomato soup with ricotta dumplings tonight, I definitely need to try these next.

    Jennifer A. Gardner, MD, FAAP, Founder, Healthy Kids Company

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