Recipe: Gnudi (ricotta dumplings) with broccoli rabe pesto
•Broccoli rabe pesto
•1 cup blanched broccoli rabe leaves
•3-4 broccoli rabe florets per serving
•1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
•1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon roasted garlic puree
•1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•A pinch pepperoncino
•Finishing salt to taste
•1 cup Italian ricotta (sheeps milk)
•1 cup Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta (cows milk)
•2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pecorino
•Pinch black pepper
•Semolina flour, enough to fill a sealtight plastic container
•Canola oil for frying
For the broccoli rabe pesto, remove broccoli rabe leaves from their branches, reserving the florets. Blanch the leaves in boiling water, quickly, immediately placing them into a bowl of ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. Blanch the florets, same method, and reserve separately. By blanching, you will retain their beautiful, natural green color in your final product. Dry the leaves once they are cooled. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Shake the pan to ensure even browning. When they are fragrant and browned, remove from heat and cool. Keep a close eye as they burn easily.
Roast the garlic by heating an oven to 300 degrees F. Place unsalted butter on a double thickness of foil and smash it to make a base for the garlic. Top with garlic heads and sprinkle with kosher salt. Fold over the sides of the foil to make a package and roast for 1 ½ hours, or until the garlic is soft. While it is still warm, scrape the softened garlic through a tamis or food mill, leaving behind the skins. Add the pine nuts to a food processor (you can also use a mortar and pestle). Pulse it to make a thick paste. Add in the garlic and continue to pulse. Add some of the rabe leaves, and pulse, adding in extra virgin olive oil in a light stream. Add more of the leaves, continuing to pulse with oil, and more of the leaves, until you have added them all and you have a thick, creamy pesto. Finish with the pepperoncino and salt to taste. Reserve.
To make the gnudi, combine all ingredients except the semolina flour in a Kitchenaid mixer. Blend until smooth. Scrape this mixture into a pastry bag. Pour the semolina flour in a thick layer into the plastic container. Pipe each gnudi dumpling into the flour, making even rows to best utilize space. Each should be about the general size of your thumb, but round, about 1 ½ tablespoons each. Once you have all the rows completed, cover the layer with more semolina flour. Repeat until the entire container is filled with layers of gnudi, tucked into the flour. Let sit for 2 days to allow a shell to form around the cheese and hold its shape. When ready, remove each dumpling from the flour. Very, very gently, toss the dumpling between your two hands to shake the flour from it. Place into a bowl, reserve until cooking. Fill a pot of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. When the water has reached the correct rolling boil, add the gnudi and cook. They are ready more quickly than ravioli — as soon as they bob to the surface, they are done and remove.
For the garlic chips, slice the garlic chips as thinly as possible on a mandoline. Place the slices in a small saucepan and cover with cold milk. Bring the milk to a boil, then drain the slices in a strainer, discarding milk, then rinse them under cold water. Return the slices to a pan and repeat the process three times, using fresh milk each time. Pat them dry on paper towels. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan to 300 degrees F. Add the garlic slices to the hot oil and fry for 12-15 minutes, or until the bubbles around the chips have subsided and they are a light golden brown. Drain the chips on paper towels. You can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for 1-2 days.
To finish: Warm the broccoli rabe florets gently in a small saucepan extra virgin olive oil, season with pepperoncino and salt. Then warm the pesto gently. Add the gnudi, toss to coat with the pesto. Serve five gnudi per person. Plate with florets mixed in. Finish with garlic chips and grated cheese.