February 11, 2013

Semolina Dumplings with Broccoli Rabe

Semolina Dumplings with Broccoli Rabe
One college winter in Ohio, I made such a fine igloo on the quad that a few students used it as a marijuana-smoking hut by night.  There’s more than enough snow piled up on our deck right now for me to recreate that igloo, but unfortunately this snow is the powdery kind that’s better for skiing.  I don’t ski.  There’s something I find claustrophobic and frightening about strapping my feet to long boards and throwing myself down a hill.  So the snow’s not sticky, but it did bust me out of work early on Friday and put me in one heck of a pasta-making mood on Saturday afternoon. 

The making of semolina dumplings doesn’t need to be restricted to the weekends though.  If you can scrape up the energy to sprinkle water on a tray of semolina flour after work, then you’re halfway there.  A bowl of rustically formed nickels of pasta with silky browned butter and bright green, tender broccoli rabe is highly appealing and enough to make you pat yourself on the back. 

 Oddly enough, my obsession with dumplings this weekend coincided with my getting back in shape after a long winter of reclining.  I hope that two floppy, out-of-shape cardio sessions were enough to counteract the effects of all the dumplings I put away.  

RECIPE (Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Frascatelli with Pecorino and Mustard Greens )

Makes 2 servings

Kosher salt
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup water
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed, tough stems trimmed and discarded
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.  Your water should be as salty as chicken soup.
2.  Spread semolina in an even, thin layer in a cookie sheet (or large baking dish) and place 1 cup of water in a small bowl next to the cookie sheet.
3.  Gather your fingertips together, dip them in the water and sprinkle water over the semolina until it’s all dotted with nickel-sized wet patches.  Let stand until semolina absorbs the water, a couple of minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, throw the broccoli rabe in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.  With tongs, transfer cooked broccoli rabe to a colander set over the sink to drain.  Save the  cooking water and keep it at a low simmer.
5.  If your dumplings have not formed, you can form them (flat and round like nickels) delicately with your fingers. 
6.  Sprinkle a very light coating of extra semolina flour over the dumplings, shaking and turning them to coat them evenly.
7.  In a medium saucepan, simmer the butter over low/medium heat until it becomes foamy and slightly brown.
8.  Meanwhile with a slotted spoon, scoop up dumplings, shaking extra semolina flour off  of them, and transfer them to a bowl or plate.  Slide them carefully into the saved simmering water, gently swirling the water to prevent the dumplings from sticking together, cooking for a total of 30 seconds.
9.  Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the butter along with the broccoli rabe.  Toss to coat completely, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Semolina Dumplings with Broccoli Rabe

And also...my silly Aperol snowcone made with local snow from the deck.

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