There is nothing more comforting to me than a dumpling. Even the word gives me a warm feeling inside. These little beauties may look dainty but they are filling – albeit a little more calorific than your starter. The sage and almond butter gives a real richness to this dish which is definitely something to enjoy on the darker nights.
500g pumpkin, prepared weight, peeled and deseeded
2-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g floury potatoes
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 egg yolk
100g whole blanched almonds
Sprinkle of granulated sugar
125g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Cut the pumpkin into pieces, place on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until soft. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and put them in a pan with salt and cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender. Drain and mash then leave the pan covered with a clean tea towel under the lid to absorb any steam. Pass the cooked pumpkin through a mouli or mash it until smooth. Transfer the mashed potatoes and pumpkin to a floured surface and mix together with your hands. Having the mixture warm will keep the dumplings light but be careful not to burn your hands.
Create a well in the centre of the mixture and add the egg yolk and flour. Working quickly, gently knead together to form a dough. Add a little more flour if necessary then roll the mixture out to a thickness of 1cm. Cut into 2.5cm strips and gently roll these into smooth sausage shapes. Cut into small cubes using a sharp knife. To add texture, press the back of the fork on top of each cube and quickly move the fork back to make the dumpling curl. This takes a little time and skill but the result is worth it. Place the dumplings on the prepared baking tray. This was you won’t need to add more flour and the dumplings won’t go mushy or chalky when cooked. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Lift the greaseproof paper and dumplings off the tray and immerse the whole lot in the boiling water. Once the dumplings have been release from the paper, remove it and bring the dumplings to the boil. Once they rise to the surface of the water, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.
For the butter, put the almonds in a dry non-stick pan and toast over a medium heat until golden. When they start to colour, add the granulated sugar and cook until the sugar has crystallized – you’re looking for a sweet crunch, not toffee almonds. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cold, crush with a pestle and mortar or in a food processor. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the sage leaves. When they start to bubble, season with salt. Add the crushed almonds and warm through. Once the dumplings have been drained, toss them in the almond butter and serve immediately.