This spinach gnocchi recipe, featuring light and fluffy dumplings consisting of the classic Italian duo, spinaci e ricotta (spinach and ricotta), is perhaps more reminiscent of malfatti. Hailing from Lombardy, these delicious dumplings are rustic by design - the term malfatti roughly translates to ‘badly made’. Thus, making malfatti is a perfect means of practising your gnocchi craft, as any irregularities in shape and size are welcome in this dish. Otherwise known as gnocchi verdi, malfatti are also characterised by their vibrant green colour, with flecks of verdant spinach mottled throughout the loose dough.
Irrespective of their peculiarities, these sweet and misshapen morsels make for a light yet sumptuous meal - especially when enrobed in a glossy sage butter, and topped with the obligatory lashing of parmesan cheese.
Our spinach and ricotta gnocchi recipe
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Calories per serving: 537 kcals
- 250g ricotta
- 500g fresh spinach
- 1 egg
- 80g ‘00’ flour (in lieu of ‘00’ flour, use all-purpose flour)
- 180g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (substitute for rennet-free Italian hard cheese if vegetarian)
- Grated nutmeg to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Half a lemon, zested
For the sage butter
- 100g good quality unsalted butter
- A handful of fresh sage leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
To make the gnocchi verdi
- Half fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add your spinach, and allow to cook until wilted. This shouldn’t take much time at all, so don’t leave the pan unattended. Once wilted, drain your spinach, then lay the mixture in the centre of a cloth or kitchen towel. Gather the ends of the towel and twist over the sink or a bowl, ensuring to aggressively squeeze your parcel, as to remove as much water as possible from the mixture.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta and flour, until a loose breadcrumb-like texture is achieved.
- Once you have extracted as much water as possible, roughly chop your spinach, before transferring to the ricotta mixture. Add the egg and Parmigiano Reggiano, as well as the grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, and the zest of half a lemon. Stir this mixture until fully combined. It should be somewhat loose in consistency, but if your dough is too wet, by all means, add more flour. However, the characteristic light and supple texture of the dumplings is partly achieved by the lack of flour in the recipe, so be cautious with your additional ingredient.
- On a well-floured surface, take a small piece of dough, and roll until a dumpling is formed. We shape ours to be reminiscent of a datterini tomato, though as noted, there is no need to aim for perfection here - the malfatti are characterized by their rustic appearance! Place your dumpling on a floured tray until ready to cook. Repeat this process for the remaining dough.
To make your sage butter
- Remove the butter from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature on the counter.
- Roughly chop the sage leaves and add to butter (you can even leave some of the sage leaves whole if you like, there’s nothing better than a mouthful of butter-soaked gnocchi with a crispy sage leaf). Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Place the butter in a large pan and gently heat until the sage becomes crisp, and the mixture turns a deep golden colour.
- In the meantime, boil your dumplings in generously salted water for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until each gnocco has risen to the surface of the liquid.
- Once cooked, transfer the dumplings to the butter. Toss gently to coat, and serve with a lashing of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Malfatti pasta wine pairing recommendation
Malfatti's delicate flavours, tender texture, and regional origins align harmoniously with the characteristics of Pecorino wine. The wine's herbaceous notes, refreshing acidity, and medium body provide a complementary accompaniment to the savoury and earthy elements of Malfatti.
Whether Malfatti is served in a light tomato sauce, brown butter, or a simple sage-infused butter, Pecorino wine's adaptability and balanced characteristics can enhance the flavours of the dish.
Have you tried making your own delightfully rustic malfatti? Be sure to tag your pasta creations on social media, using #Pastaevangelists. We’d love to know your thoughts on this recipe - be sure to leave a comment below!