There are things I appreciate eating in a restaurant because they will always be better than if I try to do it myself.
Fresh pasta is at the top of that list.
Sure, it’s doable in one’s own kitchen — just maybe not my kitchen, since I am not blessed with the kind of free time (or patience) that would allow for such a practice.
But dumplings? I’ll make dumplings all day long, particularly the plump, unfilled, doughy variety.
These gnocchi-like pillows of joy have a pleasingly short ingredient list: ricotta, flour and eggs, and unlike fresh pasta, require almost zero technical skill, time or special equipment.
They are a different beast from fresh fettuccine, but I still think of them as a way to fulfill the desire I have to make pasta without having to, you know, actually make pasta.
There are many good things about these cheesy, salty dumplings, like how the dough comes together in minutes and needs only a spoon to shape. But their best trait may be how they are the ideal vehicle for spring produce.
While the dumplings boil in heavily salted water, use that time to briefly cook any assortment of very green, very springy things in melted butter and olive oil until they turn even greener and almost tender.
I always start with some sort of allium, such as leeks, spring onions or scallions, then add a mix of ingredients, such as asparagus cut into bite-size pieces, shelled fava beans and peas in every form imaginable (snap, sugar, snow, shoots, leaves).
Know that regardless of what the recipe says, this is a great opportunity to go all out with those niche, short-seasoned spring items (ramps, green garlic) that pop up and might get you wondering, “What should I do with these?”
This is what you should do with them.
Once the dumplings have puffed and cooked through, they are added to the skillet and gently tossed to coat in that buttery business so they can mingle with all the vegetables.
From there, transfer the dumplings to a large serving bowl or plate.
Then absolutely shower them in fresh herbs (parsley and mint are complementary without being overbearing) and sweet, grassy pea tendrils if you can get your hands on them.
For those worried that their dumplings may not be perfectly spherical or uniform, take pleasure in knowing that part of their charm lies in their rustic, clunky imperfection. Besides, with all those spring vegetables in the bowl, nobody’s looking at them anyway.