One cold, drizzly night last week, faced with a fridge of odds and ends in dire need of being used up, this dish was born. Half a container of pumpkin puree, a handful of lovely cavolo nero I had bought from the farmers market, one lonely mushroom and a sad tomato combined to make what I thought was a surprisingly delicious meal considering its humble beginnings.
I had made these pumpkin dumplings a little earlier, based very loosely off an old Jamie Oliver recipe and combined with a sage butter sauce, which admittedly was quite tasty, but didn’t truly do it for me. Somehow it was just a little too sweet and oily for my liking. These dumplings needed something else.
The cavolo nero seemed like the perfect thing to balance out the pumpkin’s sweetness with its earthy, slightly bitter taste. The mushroom and tomato was then added to both increase the umami, and make everything a little saucier, then finished off with a nice hit of chilli.
I think you can keep adding flour until you have an actual roll-able dough, but the more flour you add, the chewier these things are going to get. I find the double spoon method pretty easy, dropping bits of the batter straight into the boiling water. Although they definitely look a whole lot scruffier (or may we call it rustic) from a lovingly formed gnocchi, it still makes a very satisfying plate of tastiness.
A final note; I know this might seem like a bit of work, but if you have a nice, big pumpkin sitting around, and you roast the whole thing, there is then a myriad of recipes you can make with the cooked flesh – pumpkin bread, pie, soup, pasta…. In the name of a little bowl of autumn on your dinner table – get on it!
Scruffy Pumpkin Dumplings with Cavolo Nero
Scruffy Pumpkin Dumplings
- 400 g pumpkin puree*
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200-300 g plain flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 8 large leaves of cavolo nero (lacinato kale)
- 2 medium mushroom
- 1 large tomato
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes**
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese to serve
Prep the dumpling batter
- In a medium sized bowl add the first four dumplings ingredients and stir to combine. Add the flour gradually until you have something in between a batter and a dough (I used 275g of flour). Be aware that the amount of flour you need will depend on how watery your pumpkin puree is, so add more if necessary.
- If you are unsure whether you have added enough flour, you can always drop a dollop into a pot of boiling water and test one dumpling. If it falls apart, or the dumpling is super soft, add more flour.
Cook the cavolo nero
- Cut the cavolo nero off the tough rib running up the centre of the leaf and then chop up roughly. Place in a sink of cold water and wash thoroughly (no one wants caterpillars in their dinner!). Place in a colander and leave to drain.
- Put a large frying pan on medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Slice up your onion and add to the pan, cook for a few minutes while you finely chop up the garlic. Once the onion has softened a little add the garlic to the pan and stir. As that cooks, dice up your mushrooms and tomato and add these to the pan as you go.
- Add the drained cavolo nero, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Drizzle a little water into the pan and cover with a lid to help the cavolo nero wilt down. Cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes. If it starts looking a little dry, you can add a little extra water.
Cook the dumplings
- While the cavolo nero is cooking, place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.
- Scoop up about half a tablespoon of batter, and using a second spoon, scrap it off into the boiling water.
- Repeat this until you have formed several dumplings. Make sure you do not overfill the pot, I did this in a few batches.
- After about 3-4 minutes, the dumplings should float to the top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate, and continue cooking rest of the dumplings until you have used all the batter up.
- Give the cavolo nero a good stir, it should be soft and a lovely dark green. Add the dumplings to the pan and gently stir them in, adding a little of the cooking water to help combine everything.
- Serve up, grating a healthy amount of parmesan cheese over the top.