How to make Italian malfatti – recipe

Malfatti, broadly speaking, translates from the Italian as "badly formed", but they're not deserving of their name. These little gnocchi-like morsels - all dimpled and vivid green - are just perfect.

My children love pasta for supper - in common with households around the country, dried pasta is a staple food for us come five o'clock and children's teatime - it's reliable and quick. But I'm keen to show my three there's more to Italian food than pasta or pizza. These ricotta dumplings are a delicious alternative to the endless riffs on pasta, are far from demanding to make, and, sneaking spinach into your kids, they're certainly not challenging for children to eat. Makes about 25-30 500g spinach leaves - washed and dried 250g fresh ricotta 1 large free-range organic egg ¼ of a nutmeg, freshly grated 125g Parmesan, plus extra for serving Salt and pepper 40gr Tipo "00" flour (plain flour is also fine) 200g fine semolina flour 100g butter - to serve Fresh sage - to serve (about 20 leaves) Half a lemon.

Cook the spinach in a large, deep pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Drain and squeeze out all the water. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta and "00" flour. Stir in the spinach, beaten egg, grated cheese, nutmeg and seasoning. Stir well until mixed.

On a surface floured with ½ the semolina, roll the Malfatti mix into about 25 balls the size of a walnut.

Place the balls on a tray floured with the rest of the semolina flour.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the Malfatti (leaving the semolina on the tray behind) and simmer for 2-3 minutes - they will float to the surface when cooked. Drain and keep warm in the pan.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, melt the butter and gently cook the sage leaves for 30 seconds, a squeeze of lemon juice is nice at this point.

Place the Malfatti onto plates, pour over the warm buttery sauce and sprinkle with the extra Parmesan.

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