Thursday, April 23, 2009


Strozzapreti are sometimes pasta and sometimes dumplings. This is because italians like to use the same words for different things, kind of like how Atlanta likes to have many streets with exactly the same name. Strozzapreti means "priest-stranglers," which, when you are referring to the version that are long rope-like strands of pasta, has an excellent Name of the Rose kind of thing going on. The strozzapreti I make are the dumpling kind, and the meaning of the name twists slightly; ghoulish humor, a joke on greedy priests stuffing their faces with dumplings and choking to death. The cultural mistrust of authority (and clergy and anyone with community responsibility or funding) implicit in the name of this dish is somehow just very italian.

You can (and possibly should) make these with spinach or chard but I just had a big bunch of lacinato kale, so I used that instead. Kale has a thick stem in the center that you must remove first, then slice into thin ribbons.Sauté the kale in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper until it is soft and cooked down.Mix the cooked kale in a large bowl with 3/4 cup ricotta cheese......and about 1/4 cup of parmesan.Beat in one egg, then mix in 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and salt and pepper until it is creamy.Measure out one cup of flour--you probably won't need it all, depending on how wet the mixture is. Incorporate the flour slowly into the batter, gently adding more if it seems too loose. Shape the dough lightly into balls--they might be sticky which is OK, better than too doughy. You can do a test of one by dropping it in the boiling water and see if it keeps its shape. Form the dough into dumplings, drop in water and boil them, using a skimmer to get them out after they are floating at top. It takes about 3-5 minutes for them to cook.Remove them as they finish cooking and sauté until lightly browned and slightly firmer. Set aside and keep warm.Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and fry sage leaves until crispy. Roll the cooked dumplings around in the sagey butter and top with fried sage leaves to serve. You could also have them with a light tomato sauce instead of the sage and butter.

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