For the ’ndunderi
250g fresh cow’s milk ricotta, drained
2 egg yolks, beaten
125g flour or plain (all-purpose) flour (you may need a little more or less depending on how wet the ricotta is), plus more for dusting
40g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
shredded basil, to serve
For the tomato sauce
2 × 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
200g smoked scamorza, provola or mozzarella
15g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Put the ricotta in a sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes, to make sure it’s properly drained. Once the ricotta has drained, mix all the ingredients for the ’ndunderi together (apart from the basil). Knead the dough just long enough to incorporate everything thoroughly. Then stop. You’re not trying to make pasta or bread here. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a tea towel (or use a lidded bowl) and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This minimises the amount of flour you need as it’s easier to handle.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put all the ingredients except the cheeses in a saucepan. Fill a tomato tin with water and add this, too. Simmer for 40 minutes or so, until the tomatoes have broken down, the onion is soft and the sauce is nice and chunky. Remove the bay leaf, then blitz together with a hand-held blender.
When the dough has chilled, divide the mixture in half. You’re looking to make plump little dumplings the size of walnuts, so roll out one portion into a thick rope about 2.5 cm (one inch) in diameter before chopping it up. Aim for even-sized pieces so they’ll cook through in the same amount of time. You should end up with about 30 dumplings.
Dust the prongs of a large fork with flour (choose a fork with long prongs, as it makes rolling easier) and gently roll each ricotta ball along the tines, to make a nice ridged dumpling. Place them on a floured surface while you make the others. Then repeat with the other portion of dough. When you are ready to cook the ’ndunderi, add half the smoked scamorza to the sauce and continue cooking it until the cheese has melted.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F/gas mark 6). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and plop in the ’ndunderi. Simmer for five minutes – they will bob to the top of the water when cooked. If your dumplings are on the large size, you will need to simmer them for longer, say seven minutes in total. Use slotted spoon or sieve to transfer them to the tomato sauce. Cook for one minute before transferring the mixture to a 25 × 30 cm gratin dish.
Scatter over the remaining scamorza and the Parmigiano Reggiano and bake for 10 minutes – or until the cheeses have melted. Spoon into bowls and serve with shredded basil.
Extracted from Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks by Vicky Bennison (Hardie Grant, £20) Photography © Emma Lee