Ricotta, Spinach & Basil Malfatti
Malfatti is the American version of spinach and ricotta filling without the pasta. It’s a rustic dish that originally began with stale bread in the poorer kitchens of Italy. Red sauce was an addition in America, and since the 1920’s it’s been a classic, not only with spinach but also with Swiss chard. These malfatti will fool you: They’re incredibly tender, light, and fluffy, and you won’t miss the pasta. I stayed pretty basic with the ingredients in part because my Bolognese sauce was on fire (I loaded it with hot red pepper). Although I made a meat sauce as a base for these dumplings, you can make your favorite sauce or use the classic melted butter, cheese, and nutmeg. Use what you have available and be creative! The dumplings can be made into smaller sizes to be more delicate or like quenelles if you want a more elegant rather than rustic presentation. This recipe is easy and fun to make, so be sure to include the kids in the kitchen for some great family time!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil then salt it heavily.
- To a large bowl add the spinach, ricotta, basil, eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is well combined. Roll the mixture into balls then roll lightly in flour and set aside. Drop dumplings a few at a time into salted, boiling water. Once they begin to float, cook for an additional minute. Drain and set on a warmed platter with melted butter. Grate fresh nutmeg all over the tops and serve with additional basil or sauce, if desired.
*Make sure the spinach is drained and all water is squeezed so that it is dry. If your ricotta mixture is runny, line a strainer with cheesecloth and let sit for a few hours or overnight.