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Spinach Malfatti with Sage Butter

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Serves 6

  • by from The Italian Farmer's Table

Malfatti translates as "poorly made" and these large dumplings are cut irregularly. They are a specialty from Brescia in Lombardy and are the region’s version of ricotta gnocchi.

Watch the Fine Cooking Culinary School Video Series, where the authors show you, step-by-step, how to make this dish, as well as eight other handmade pastas.

  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1 lb. spinach, blanched and finely chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 eggs
  • All-purpose flour, as needed
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. chopped sage
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a medium-size bowl mix together the ricotta, spinach, bread crumbs, nutmeg, grated cheese, and the eggs until completely combined.

Generously flour a work surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a log 1 inch thick. With a knife, cut each log into irregular 1-inch dumplings, then toss in flour to cover. Continue making dumplings until all the dough has been used.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings and cook until they begin to float to the top, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Drain the dumplings well.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook until the butter begins to lightly brown. Whisk in the reserved pasta water until emulsified, then add the dumplings to the butter sauce. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with freshly grated cheese.

Photo: Melissa Pellegrino & Matthew Scialabba

I've made this a few times. It's incredibly gratifying and quite simple. The malfatti can hold, refrigerated, for a couple hours. That may help them retain their shape.

Help! They fell apart while cooking. Would love to try this again. Anyone care to give some guidance? Was my blanched spinach too wet? Should I have drained the ricotta??? Should I have thrown in another egg? I finely grated the parm, should I have used a heavier grate? I followed all the measurements, but ended up with delicious spinach glop instead of dumplings. Would appreciate some insight before my next attempt. I didn't want to rate this until I made it properly! Thanks!!!

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