Malfatti

Some time ago, I was spending my Saturday the way no-one who has had an incredibly long week at work that included an alnighter should be spending their Saturday … once again in the office stuck behind my computer.  As a break from what I was doing, I rang my mum, to download and to see how she was.  As always, mum and I were discussing the latest recipes we had tried.  Lately, we talk about bread a lot.  My mum got serious about baking her own bread about 2 years ago and has not bought a single loaf since.  I have only recently started dabbling in bread-baking, so I often turn to her for advice.  Well this time, we were discussing what dad and her had for lunch – some pillowy light ricotta dumplings.  When mum explained that these could pretty much be made while you wait for the water to boil, I immediately asked for the recipe.  The dumplings got me thinking though … I still had some very fine Turkish semolina at home, some fresh young spinach as well as a bag of wild garlic in the freezer … so, instead of waiting for my mother’s recipe, I decided to have some malfatti (Italian ricotta spinach dumplings) for dinner and picked up ricotta and parmigiano at the local organic food store on my way home.

My oh my, these were indeed incredibly easy to make and so quick to throw together! And boy did they taste good.  I served them with a simple sauce of the wild garlic sauteed in olive oil, some cherry tomatoes thrown into the pan to soften a bit and seasoned with just salt and better.  At the last minute I tossed the malfatti in and carefully covered them in the sauce before serving this with some grated parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper (as well as a glass of organic apple cider on the side!).

For 1 portion (this is definitely a proper meal in itself, nothing of that small plate of pasta followed by a big hunk of meat nonsense!):

125g ricotta
100g fresh spinach
1 egg
20g flour
salt and pepper for seasoning
fine semolina, to roll the dumplings in

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to boil.  Next, steam your spinach (I just use the microwave).  Squeeze out any excess liquid and chop roughly.

Next, put the ricotta into a bowl and mix with the egg until fully incoporated.  Add the flour, spinach, salt and pepper and combine the mix.

Put about 1 handful of semolina into a plate.  Using 2 tablespoons form dumplings roughly equal in size (so they cook evenly) and drop them in the semolina, coating from all sides. And no, this is not easy, the dumpling mix will looks as though it’s falling apart.  But just be careful and persevere, they will hold their shape in the hot water and come out as light ricotta-spinach-pillows.

Once the water has reached boiling point, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the dumplings in one go.  The dumplings will start rising to the surface but let them simmer for about 10-15 minutes until fully done.  Don’t be alarmed if bits of the dumplings or the semolina will start rising to the surface as well – there is a reason these dumplings are called malfatti (literally ‘badly done’ in Italian)!

Most recipes I have seen suggest serving these with a tomato sauce or sage butter.  However, I wanted something fresh that would also not overpower the light taste of the ricotta and the spinach.  Not only was my fresh tomato and wild garlic sauce quick to put together it also worked perfectly with the dumplings!

I wish I had a picture to show you, but (a) the name ‘malfatti’ (badly or wrongly made in Italian) does not imply a dish of beauty and (b) I was definitely suffering from “shaky-camera-because-there-is-yummy-dood-in-front-of-me-which-will-go-cold-if-I-dont-eat-it-now”-syndrome … Next time as they say …

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