Cheese dumplings mean next-level decadence. But when served with spicy cilantro and jalapeño pesto, you'll want to devour them by the platter.
After a bit of begging, Sessions at the Presidio agreed to share their recipe, which calls for panela cheese and a topping of toasted pepitas for a bit of crunch. The restaurant serves the dish as both a small appetizer and as a main. In our estimation, the more the better.
Panela Cheese Dumplings With Cilantro Pesto
To Prepare the Dumplings:
14 ounces panela cheese
¼ cup whole milk
4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup “00” flour or all-purpose flour, plus more reserved for dusting
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
2 egg yolks
1. Place the panela cheese and milk in a food processor and process until fairly smooth.
2. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix in the dry ingredients and egg yolks.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary. (Be careful not to overdo the flour, or dumplings will be heavy.)
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
6. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough using both hands into ropes, about 1/2 inch in diameter.
7. Dust with flour as necessary, again being careful not to overdo the flour.
8. Cut dumplings in about 1.5 inch segments. If desired, roll each dumpling over the back of the tines of a fork to make ridges.
9. Lay the dumplings out in a single layer on a flour-dusted baking pan. Dumplings can be frozen at this point or refrigerated for same day use.
To Prepare the Cilantro, Jalapeño and Walnut Pesto:
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1 -2 medium jalapeños
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp lime juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Roast the jalapeños on a grill or directly on your gas stove until the skin is well charred all around.
2. Use one jalapeño if you prefer the sauce mild, or two for a spicier pesto. Discard the jalapeño stems and place the jalapeños and remaining ingredients (except the oil) in a strong blender or small food processor.
3. Process the ingredients and gradually add the oil in a stream to emulsify.
To Prepare the Dish:
Vegetable oil for sauteing
Butter for sautéing
2 cups peeled and diced winter squash, such as delicata or butternut
6 ounces panela cheese, crumbled
¼ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
1. Bring about 6-8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.
2. Set up a water bath with a little ice.
3. Set aside skimmer strainer for transferring the dumplings.
4. Add the dumplings to the boiling water.
5. As soon as the dumplings begin to float, skim them out and transfer to the water bath.
6. Once all dumplings are cooked and cooled, transfer out of the water bath into a clean container.
7. Heat the pesto over low heat and set aside.
8. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat with a couple tablespoons of oil.
9. Add the diced squash and sauté for 3-5 minutes, seasoning with salt to taste, until the squash is somewhat tender. Reserve the squash.
10. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and return to medium heat.
11. Add a couple more tablespoons oil to the pan and then cook the dumplings in the pan in batches. Be careful not to crowd the dumplings in the pan.
12. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and brown the dumplings. Use a large spoon to turn each dumpling over to brown on both sides.
13. Reserve the cooked dumplings and repeat the cooking process until all the dumplings are cooked.
14. Once that is done, return the squash and the dumplings to the pan just to warm everything up.
15. Ladle a good amount of the pesto into a large serving platter or bowl.
16. Place the cooked dumplings and squash on top of the sauce and then top the dish with crumbled panela cheese and roasted pepitas. Serve immediately.
Omar Mamoon is the founder of Dough & Co.