Creamy little ricotta dumplings are quite delicious cooked with smoked tofu and vegetables in this fragrant vegetarian dish that's a cross between a soup and a stew.
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225g baby spinach leaves, cooked, drained and finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
4 spring onions, finely chopped
250g ricotta cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
175g plain flour
220g firm smoked tofu
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 litre vegetable stock
250g frozen baby broad beans
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
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Method Prep:35min › Cook:30min › Ready in:1hr5min
Mix the spinach, lemon zest, spring onions and ricotta cheese. Add nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Mix in the egg and then the flour to make a stiff mixture. Shape heaped teaspoons of the mixture into small round dumplings, wetting your hands under cold running water to prevent sticking. This will make 30–35 dumplings. Place on a baking tray and chill until ready to cook.
Preheat the grill to high. Place the tofu on a sheet of foil in the grill pan. Mix the garlic and oil in a large saucepan. Brush the tofu with some of this garlic oil, then turn it and brush the second side. Grill for 2–3 minutes on each side until browned. Remove and set aside.
Heat the garlic oil in the pan. Add the leek and carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Use a draining spoon to transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
Pour the stock into the pan and bring just to the boil. Cook the dumplings in batches, allowing 3–4 minutes each, until they are firm and float. They are best cooked a few at a time so that the water simmers constantly and they cook quickly without sticking. Use the draining spoon to remove them as they are cooked.
Add the broad beans and tarragon, if using, to the stock and replace the vegetables with all their juices. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cut the tofu in half and then into slices. Put the dumplings into the soup and add the tofu. Heat gently for 1 minute. Ladle into large bowls to serve.
The shaped dumplings can be prepared ahead and chilled or frozen. Open-freeze until firm before packing, to prevent them from sticking. Cook from frozen in boiling stock, allowing an extra minute or so.