Italian Malfatti with Tomato Sauce



Any recipe containing spinach always gets my attention. I love spinach! And of course, I prefer using fresh leaf spinach when available. There are only few recipes, mostly Czech recipes, where frozen chopped spinach works well. So when I saw Italian malfatti in a Czech food magazine, and found out that the green pieces were spinach leaves, I knew instantly I had to try to make them.



I have never eaten malfatti nor heard of them before. I learned that best malfatti are home prepared and their name, translated from Italian, means "bad made". Such name doesn't do them justice, does it? But don't be fooled by their name. They are sometimes referred to as "naked ravioli". That sounds much better, kinda sexy, I would say.

Malfatti is a traditional Tuscan dish and it's basically ravioli filling without dough. They mostly contain ricotta and only a small amount of flour which make them very light and airy, especially when you compare them to traditional gnocchi. On top of that, they are very easy to make! And they contain plenty of greens! I think someone should officially change their name! What's bad about them?


I served malfatti with spicy tomato sauce, but you can also just drizzle it with melted butter and scatter some extra parmesan on top. Doesn't it look like a perfect spring dish?

And look, spring has finally arrived to London too! I mean real spring with sunny days, blooming trees and baby ducks! :)


Note: I didn't put the exact quantity of flour/semolina, you need to add enough to make soft dough, still a little sticky. I started with 50g and added more gradually until I got the consistency I wanted.


Italian malfatti with spicy tomato sauce
Serves 4

1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
100g fresh spinach leaves, washed, hard stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg
250g ricotta cheese
50g grated parmesan
1 egg
1 egg yolk
50-100g semolina (plain flour works too)

For the sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt
1/2 of dried chilli pepper
400g canned tomatoes

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
extra parmesan, to serve

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and saute shallot for about 4 minutes. Add spinach leaves, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for 3-5 minutes until wilted.

2. Drain in a sieve placed over a medium bowl, pressing to squeeze out excess liquid. Save the squeezed liquid. Chop the spinach.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine drained ricotta, parmesan, egg, egg yolk, chopped spinach and spinach liquid. Season with salt if needed. Start adding flour/semolina, mixing well between each addition, to get a soft mixture but not very sticky. If you make too thick mixture, the malfatti will get heavy and chewy.

4. Sprinkle some flour on a plate. Form the mixture into a small egg-shaped pieces using two spoons dipped into hot water. Place them carefully on a plate, sprinkle some more flour over and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

5. Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and chilli and fry for a minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt a pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the maflatti in batches so that they have enough space and water to cook. When they come out at the surface continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, drain and keep warm until all the malfatti are done.

7. Divide the malfatti between plates, pour tomato sauce over and sprinkle with parmesan and basil leaves.

38 comments :

  1. I've never heard of malfatti before Sari, but it looks divine!

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  2. This looks delicious! I definately have to try this. I love spinach and ricotta :D
    And your sping pics of London look beautiful! Our garden is still completely covered with snow...

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  3. wow this looks delicious!! & love the pictures! I'm always looking for vegetarian dishes so thanks :)

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  4. OH it's definitely spring! Those little ducklings are just precious. And of course, so are your malfatti. Although I've never heard of them, anything Italian and vegetable-containing I will eat. Because I love em both. Great pictures Sari!

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  5. Absolutely delicious looking! Your pictures are stunning and so fresh!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Absolutely fantastic! And remember I'm Tuscan, so I know what we're talking about! Mine are slightly different, but I must reckon yours are great!! And what about pictures? once more I do love the light!

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  7. oh i love malfatti - i discovered it for the first time in liguria and fell in love with it. this one looks awesome and i love your baby ducks pictures! what a great capture!

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  8. To me, the name sounds like "Lil Fatty" and they kinda are, like adorable little fatty baby cheeks or something. I say keep the name, reclaim the meaning!

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  9. Oh my! I've not had malfatti yet and I'm going to be all over these babies! Again gorgeous pics!

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  10. really,really gorgeous photography. x shayma

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  11. Ohhhhhhh, the ducks are so CUTE!!! :)

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  12. Incredible, beautiful, dreamy..
    Those are the words that come to mind after browsing through your site for a few minutes. I love your photography and what a beautiful recipe as well.

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  13. I agree with everything that has been said above. Your photos are stunning. I love the lighting, dreamy colors and depth of field.

    I will definitely try this 'bad/mal' recipe. Looks so intriguing!

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  14. These are fabulous! What a great recipe, Sari! Naked ravioli indeed! Beautiful! And gorgeous pictures!

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  15. I've almost tried this before, I love ricotta and I think this would a love at first taste kind of dish.

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  16. They look delicious. I am enjoying italian doughy recipes and I will have to give it a try. Gorgeous photos too!

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  17. These look wonderful, I can't believe I've never heard of them! Can't you bring some on Sunday? ;-)

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  18. Love that picture of the ducks. Delicious looking dish too. Looks light but oh so flavoursome :)

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  19. Wow! What a pretty post! I love the brightness in the photographs, so springy!

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  20. First I love the picture of the ducks. It reminds me of a song I used to sing to my nephew about five little ducks going for a walk or something... and then about the malfatti business, well, I have to say it is a gorgeous dish. Kinda reminds me of an Italian flag!

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  21. These look great and tasty. Thanks for introducing these italian malfatti pieces.

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  22. Your post makes me so happy, it's full of light, nature and beautiful colors - all the elements of spring! This naked ravioli looks pretty delish too!

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  23. That squirrel is so cute! But back to the topic of food, I was only recently introduced to the idea of this dish and have been (and still am) dying to try it. Lovely photos and styling. Your photography skills enhance what is already a lovely dish.

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  24. I just came across your blog and just want to say it is great. Clean and nice! Keep it up!

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  25. Fantastic great summer lunch recipe!

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  26. If your Spring is as beautiful as this, I love it. I love the pasta too, and the name has a very mafia ring to it...nice! I think I'm going to make it soon, with the tomato sauce. It looks indulgent in ever way. BEAUTIFUL pictures Sarka!!

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  27. I have never tried malfatti. Your photos are so stunning, I just spent the last 15 minutes gaping at them!

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  28. So beautiful. I made these a few weeks ago from Marcella Hazan's book for a an line cooking group. I rushed and never photo'd, never posted. Now I'm re-energized to do the recipe again. Beautiful pictures.

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  29. I'd never heard of these - but they sure are gorgeous! I agree that a campaign to change their names is in order...

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  30. WOOT WOOT!! Just made these for lunch Sari, and they were delicious in every bite. Didn't come out as perfect & beautiful as yours but tasted fab. I used loads of basil in place of spinach because I didn't have any spinach on hand. Thank you for sharing it!!

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  31. These are so elegant! I have never heard of Malfatti before. I thought it was Gnocchi at first. I love the bright airiness in all your photos. So inviting.

    We still aren't having a proper Spring here in Norway yet. Things are just starting to bloom and the grass is still brown. Hopefully a good rain with remedy that soon.

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  32. Just stumbled on your blog.... its wondrous! Im a follower from here on out!

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  33. I love all of your pictures...it makes it so much easier to actually work with the dough. I also appreciate the nutrition facts...keep up the good work!

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  34. I've already tried them - fabulous! So easy to make, so delicious to eat :) Thanks!

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  35. Hii, Dou you think is it possible to make this without eggs ? Because i have an egg intolerancy.

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  36. @Epl - I asked other blogger if they ever tried to make malfatti without eggs and I was also searching on the internet, but I didn't get a sufficient answer. The best way to find out is to give it a try! :) But I think that the dough might fall apart during cooking when made without eggs.

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  37. I'd try it :D , and it is successful. I replace a quarter of semolina with cornstarch to prevent fall apart, and it worked. Thank you, it was delicious.

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  38. @Epl - Yay! That's great! So glad it worked for you! And thank you for letting me know!

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