Dumplings are not just for winter evenings!

This week Barbara Gallani, teacher at The Life Centre and author of the recently published book: Dumplings, a Global History shares one of her recipe’s with us. Here is what she says:

“I am very keen to de-bunk the myth that dumplings are just a type of stodgy comfort food that does not agree with a healthy diet and lifestyle. In fact, at my book launch in London, all the dumplings served were not only hand-made with fresh ingredients by my parents, they were also either vegetarian or vegan. The recipe below is one of my favourites because of its simplicity (I have been making gnocchi since I was a child) and its versatility (the main ingredient, the potato, can be complemented by almost all different types of flour and a large variety of sauces).”

GNOCCHI AL SUGO DI POMODORO (Italian potato dumplings with tomato sauce)
Serves 6
Takes 1 ½ hours to prepare, 5 minutes to cook
NOTE: Instead of plain flour you can use wholemeal or rye flour, which will give the dumplings a darker colour and a slightly harder texture.
1½ kg potatoes
1 egg
280g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra if required
1 pinch of salt
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ tsp sugar
a pinch of salt
1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 40 minutes, until soft, then peel, mash and leave to cool.
2. Add the egg and flour to the potatoes and knead the mixture, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.
3. Roll the dough into a number of ‘sausages’ of about 2cm in diameter and cut into equal pieces about 2cm long.
4. Gently push each piece against the concave face of a fork, creating a small indentation with your thumb as you let each dumpling, one at a time, roll off the fork onto a tray sprinkled with flour.
5. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft then add the chopped tomatoes, sugar (to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes) and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Drop the dumplings into boiling water and cook for a few minutes, until they float to the surface.
7. Drain and serve hot with the tomato sauce on top.

The word dumpling can mean many different things in the culinary world: fluffy balls of wheat flour and animal fat floating to the surface of hearty stews; delicate parcels of dough filled with meat or vegetables and then steamed; firm little lumps of potato, egg and flour served in a thick sauce.
Savoury and sweet dumplings are widespread across the world with simple varieties served as an everyday meal in the home or in school and factory canteens. More elaborate versions are prepared just once or twice a year for celebrations and festivals such as Chinese New Year, Italian and Polish Christmas or Jewish Yom Kippur.

I am a dumpling lover and – as there are many of us around – my book Dumplings: A Global History, which was published in April by Reaktion Books, has been received with great enthusiasm around the world. It was a great experience, following the launch in London, to travel to the US to deliver a lecture on the history of dumplings at the Smithsonian in Washington DC and at 92Y in New York.
What I loved the most of my book tour was meeting so many people willing to exchange their recipes and their family stories of making dumplings for special occasions or everyday meals.
I had a few giggles with my yoga students when the book came out because despite all our efforts we didn’t quite manage to find a connection between my passion for yoga and the one I have for dumplings, although I am absolutely sure that at some level there is one!

To purchase Dumplings, A Global History, click here

View Barbara’s teaching schedule.