I have been busy in the kitchen this week testing recipes for upcoming holiday events. Despite the endless pile of dishes, I really do enjoy spending the day in sweats and rocking out to christmas pandora while exploring previously unchartered terrain. Even though it does require a bit more recipe following than I usually practice, creativity and personal touches seem to work their way in pretty naturally.
This adorable appetizer origins began on Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks.com. Keeping the basic idea the same, I tweaked some ingredients and techniques and found a dipping that paired beautifully. Appetizers are usually a little high maintenance for my style, but for special occasions, this is well worth the effort. The most tedious step is the rolling and layering, but take your time because the presentation pays off. Make sure to give each dumpling plenty of room in the steamer as they will quickly stick together when cooling, resulting in a sad mess of your hard work if overlapping.
The edamame in the filling offers high quality protein and fiber, while the ricotta and parmesan create a luxurious richness without being heavy. With a touch of lemon zest, the result is fresh, light and flavor packed. I loved this fresh mint dipping sauce as well, which contains no oil or salt, and compliments the peas beautifully.
A quick tip on lemon zest before I dish out the recipe: even if your recipe doesn't call for it, zest your citrus with a microplane or zester and freeze it in a ziplock bag for later use. This way you always have some zest in a pinch to brighten up sauteed vegetables, dressings, sauces and salads. Although the white pith is actually packed with bioflavanoids, it also tends to be bitter, so stick to the colorful outer layer using lighter strokes, unless using therapeutically.
Sweet Pea Dumpling with Fresh Mint Dipping Sauce
Makes about 30 dumplings
2 cups (about 10 ounces) cups frozen peas
½ cup shelled edamame
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 small shallot, minced
1/3 cup grated high-quality Parmesan
zest of one large lemon
a dash of nutmeg
1 package of spring roll wrappers
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peas and edamame and cook until bright green in color, about a minute. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
Pulse the peas, edamame, ricotta, olive oil, and salt in a food processor to a a chunky puree. Add the shallots, Parmesan, lemon zest, pepper and nutmeg and pulse a few more times. Taste and add more salt if needed.
To roll the dumplings, cut each wrapper in half on the diagonal to create two triangles. Drop a tablespoon of filling in the center and wet the two sides with a quick swipe of water. From the most obtuse angle, toll wrapper up, trapping the filling inside. Next fold each side over and wrap as you flip the dumpling, crossing the tips on the opposite side and pressing to seal. See pictures to the left for a visual aid. I tried several different rolling techniques and this was my favorite, but by all means, feel free to be creative to reach the size and presentation you most fancy.
I like these dumplings best steamed, but you can pan fry them as well in a tad of olive oil for a crisp golden case. If steaming, set up your steamer (bamboo works nicely) and arrange the dumplings in a single layer, being careful not to overlap. Steam for about three minutes - until the dumplings are tender and translucent. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and serve with Mint Dipping Sauce.
Fresh Mint Dipping Sauce
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 dates, pitted
serrano chile, minced, to taste
fresh lemon juice, to taste
zest of one lemon
olive oil (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. Start with a small amount of minced serrano and add more to taste, as they can vary substantially in heat. Thin sauce with water or olive oil to reach desired consistency.