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Culinary School: Spinach Malfatti (Dumplings)

Sarah Breckenridge. Videography by Gary Junken and Mike Dobsevage. Edited by Mike Dobsevage. Food styling by Safaya Tork.
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Croxetti Con Sugo BiancoThe spinach and ricotta dumplings called “Malfatti” translate to “poorly made” in Italian, a reference to their large, rustic shape. They’re from the Lombardy region, where they’re even more common than potato gnocchi. They’re even easier to make, too. In this episode, you’ll learn how the dough comes together and how to cut them into the irregular shapes that give malfatti their name-but as soon as you taste them, you’ll never again think they’re poorly made.

We learned to make these Malfatti at a farm called Macesina in Lombardy. The kitchen there is run by two twin sisters whose family have owned the farm for generations. This was their family recipe that came from their mother.

The dumplings start out with a pound of spinach, which you blanch in boiling water and then finely chop. It’s really important to get all the excess water out of the spinach, so be sure to squeeze it really well in a dishtowel.

Then combine it with 8 oz of ricotta, a cup of breadcrumbs, a teaspoon of grated nutmeg, and a 1/2 cup of grated grana padano cheese, and 2 eggs.

Flour your work surface, and divide the dough into 4 pieces. Then you roll each piece into a log, about an inch thick. Cut each log into dumplings about an inch wide.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water’s boiling, add the dumplings and cook until they float to the top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Before you drain them, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

The malfatti are served in a sage-butter sauce that’s really easy to make. You just melt 1 stick of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbs. of chopped fresh sage, and cook until the butter just begins to brown. Then whisk in that pasta cooking water you save-gradually so it emulsifies with the butter. Next add your drained malfatti to the butter and toss to coat. Just before you serve them, grate a little more grana padano cheese over the top.

Other episodes about handmade pasta
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Episode 1: Croxetti (Pasta Coins) with Pine Nut-Butter Sauce   Episode 2: Butternut Squash Gnocchi   Episode 3: Spinach Malfatti (Dumplings)
Bergamo-Style Ravioli Bigoli with Duck Ragu Pasta Imbottita (Cheese Pillows in Broth)
Episode 4: Bergamo-Style Ravioli   Episode 5: Bigoli with Duck Ragu   Episode 6: Pasta Imbottita (Cheese Pillows in Broth)
Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Walnut Butter Sauce Cappelletti with Wild Mushroom Sauce Spinach, Ricotta and Egg Yolk Raviolo
Episode 7: Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Walnut Butter Sauce   Episode 8: Cappelletti with Wild Mushroom Sauce   Episode 9: Spinach, Ricotta and Egg Yolk Raviolo


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