This recipe might make me a gnocchi fan. Tender yet firm to the bite, satisfyingly salty and chewy, these dumplings might just make up for the amount of work required. I think they were supposed to look like cashews, but mine ended up looking more like mini marshmallows or chicklets because the dough was so springy when I was shaping it. They're just flour, breadcrumbs, water and salt - the same ingredients for any fresh pasta - boiled in salted water until bobbing, and then folded into the stew.
The bean stew alone was stellar. I started with dried pinto beans (soaked overnight) and simmered them with sauteed onions, celery, rosemary, garlic and water. This recipe calls for bacon or pancetta, without which it would be perfectly vegetarian; I used bacon. Normally when I cook dried beans, they never end up with the same texture as canned. They're always crumbly or falling apart or mushy or crunchy. This time they ended up perfectly soft, smooth and unbroken. It may have been because I used a brand new package of beans, whereas I usually use beans that have been sitting on the shelf forever. I had always thought it was just impossible to get dried beans to have the same texture as canned and I'd very nearly given up and bought canned beans for this recipe.
After simmering the beans I added salt and Pomi chopped tomatoes. I like Pomi tomatoes because they're only tomatoes, tetra-pakked, without citric acid or any of the weird chemicals on the insides of cans.
I forgot to add the Parmesan (which just means tomorrow night's rendition of this stew will be even better) and there isn't a leaf of basil to be found anywhere. I didn't miss it, but maybe I'll make this again in August when the basil is growing.