Ndunderi or ricotta gnocchi from Amalfi

Normally our criteria for selecting ‘Grannies’ is they have to be real life Grannies, or over 60 – preferably over 70.  We made an exception for Giusy, though, as she learnt how to make ndunderi from her nonna and has become an expert even though she’s only 21 years old.

Nnunderi are ricotta gnocchi – i.e. instead of the usual potato/flour combo, ricotta is the main ingredient. This makes them much lighter. They are a speciality of Minori on the Amalfi Coast. Guisy stipulated 200g of ricotta – I found 300g made a better dough. So that is what I’ve suggested.

Ingredients for the Ndunderi:
300g fresh cows’ milk ricotta, drained
2 large free range egg yolks, beaten
120g-180g of OO soft wheat flour (it depends on how wet the ricotta is, but I found 150g ample)
40g grated parmigiano reggiano
pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg

Ingredients for the tomato sauce:
2x400g tin tomatoes
1 onion, 1 garlic clove, both roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt
200g smoked scamorza
15g grated parmigiano reggiano

To make the ndunderi:
Leave your ricotta in a sieve for 30 minutes to make sure it’s drained properly, if necessary.

Mix all the ingredients together and knead the dough just long enough to mix everything thoroughly together. Then stop; you’re not trying to make pasta or bread here. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with cling film, before leaving it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This minimises the amount of flour you need to add as it’s then easier to handle.

You’re looking to make plump little dumplings, so divide the mixture in half, and roll out one portion into a thick rope before chopping it up. Aim to make them the same size so they’ll cook through at the same time. For me, I made 26 dumplings of around 20g each. This is on the large size; you may prefer daintier mouthfuls!  Dust the tines of a large fork (with long tines, which makes rolling easier) with flour and gently roll the ricotta balls down the tines, to make a nice ridged dumpling. I find rolling down the cut (not rolled) edge creates better indents. Leave on a floured surface while you make the others. Repeat with the other portion of dough.

For the tomato sauce:
Add all the ingredients except the cheese together in a saucepan. Use a tin to measure out some water and add this to the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until the tomatoes have broken down, the onion is soft, and the sauce is nice and chunky. Blitz with a stick blender, remembering to remove the bay leaf first. This can be done ahead of when you make the ndunderi.
When you are ready to cook the ndunderi, add half the smoked scamorza and continue cooking until the cheese has melted.

Putting the dish together:
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and plop in the ndunderi. Simmer them for 5 minutes – they will bob to the top of the water; if your dumplings are on the large size, like mine at 20g each, then simmer them for another 2 minutes. Use scoop to transfer them to the tomato sauce. Cook for another minute before transferring the mixture to a gratin dish. Scatter the remaining scamorza and parmigiano over the top and bake for 10 minutes – or until the cheeses have melted.

Serve with shredded basil over the top. All this needs is a green salad to accompany it.