Spinach and Cheese Dumplings with Sage Butter


2 3/4 lb( 1.2 kg) spinach
2 eggs
11 oz (300 g) ricotta cheese
2 oz (60 g) grated hard cheese
2 tbsp plain flour
2 oz (60 g) butter
1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring a very large, wide saucepan of salted water to the boil. Trim the spinach; use only the smaller, younger leaves for this dish. You should have about 1 1/4 lb (700 g) net weight. Wash the spinach very thoroughly; blanch for 1 minute in the boiling water. Take out of the water with a slotted ladle and drain in a colander. Reserve the blanching water.

2. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the moisture by hand and chop finely. Place in a large non-stick frying pan and cook over a low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.

3. Beat 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in a mixing bowl with 1 tsp salt, a little pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Beat the spare egg white lightly in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Blend in both types of cheese, followed by the spinach. Sprinkle in the flour and stir very thoroughly, adding salt to taste. If the mixture is very soft, add an extra 1 tbsp flour. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.

5. Bring the reserved blanching water back to the boil. Take the mixture out of the refrigerator and use a tablespoon dipped in cold water repeatedly to make slightly flattened, egg-shaped dumplings, shaping these firmly in the spoon with the help of your fingers dipped in the spare egg white to prevent the mixture sticking to your fingers. Space out the shaped dumplings on a large plate or board as you prepare them.
6. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan and add the sage.

7. With the water at a very gentle boil, barely more than a simmer, carefully add the dumplings one at a time. They must have plenty of room; cook in batches if necessary. At first they will sink to the bottom; after about 3 minutes they will bob up to the surface. As they do so, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Handle them with care as they break up easily.

8. Sprinkle with the sage butter and serve.

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