Baked Spinach and Goat Cheese Dumplings
Source: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese (Stewart, Tabori & Chang , 2011)
It was demonstarted for CUESA’s Goat Festival on April 16, 2011
1 pound fresh spinach, washed and stemmed, or 10 ounces frozen, thawed
8 ounces fresh chèvre or soft goat cheese, at room temperature so that it’s very creamy
4 ounces aged goat cheese, such as goat Gouda, finely grated and divided
¾ cup semolina flour, plus more for rolling the little dumplings
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely minced chives or the green part of a scallion
1 tablespoon goat butter (or unsalted cow butter, if you must)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup regular or low-fat goat milk (or cow milk, if you must)
2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth
1. If you are using fresh spinach, wash well by submerging spinach in water. Heat a large sauté pan and add spinach with water still clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook until spinach is completely wilted. Remove from heat and, once cool enough to touch, wring all the excess liquid from the spinach. If using frozen spinach, grab in small handfuls and squeeze as hard as you can over the sink to get rid of as much excess moisture as you can. Once spinach is drained, put the bundles in a big bowl and use a fork to separate the spinach back out into bits and threads.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the spinach, fresh chèvre or soft goat cheese, half the grated aged goat cheese, the semolina flour, salt, lemon zest, black pepper, nutmeg, eggs and chives or scallion. You want a creamy but somewhat stiff mixture because you’re doing to form it into balls.
3. Sprinkle a little more semolina flour on a clean, dry work surface. Pick up a little bit of the spinach mixture, a little smaller than a golf ball. Roll this in the semolina flour to form an oblong ball, sort of like a football but without the pointed ends. Set aside and continue rolling more, adding more flour to your work surface as need be (but not too much or the balls will turn gummy). You’ll end up with about twenty-four dumplings.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add five or six dumplings. Lower the heat so the water barely simmers. Poach for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the pot to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or an oblong roasting pan. Then add five or six more dumplings and repeat the poaching process again—and again until all the dumplings are done and in the baking dish or roasting pan. Why not just toss them all into the water at once? Because they’ll crowd the pot and stick together. You want enough space so they can bounce around freely in the boiling water.
5. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F.
6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk in the all-purpose flour. Whisk over the heat for 30 seconds. Then whisk in the milk in dribs and drabs, a little bit each time to form a paste—and then more at a time, although never more than a slow, steady drizzle. Once all the milk is in the pan, whisk in the wine, raise the heat to medium, and whisk until bubbling and slightly thickened, just a minute or so.
7. Pour this sauce over the dumpling balls in the baking dish or roasting pan. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the dish. Bake until bubbling and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.