Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti

Although malfatto translates into “badly made,” these pillowy dumplings are tender with a rustic character. By omitting the flour, the ricotta and spinach mixture becomes a delicious filling for ravioli or tortellini using homemade pasta (see “Homemade Pasta 101”).

1 lb (450 g) light ricotta
1 cup (250 mL) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup (60 mL) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped mint
3 Tbsp (45 mL) whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra to coat malfatti
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 grates fresh nutmeg
Semolina flour, to coat malfatti
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (500 mL) halved cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas
1/2 tsp (2 mL) finely grated lemon zest
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Place ricotta in cheesecloth-lined sieve over bowl and let drain in refrigerator overnight. Ricotta should be pretty dry and crumbly.

Place ricotta in large bowl along with dry spinach, eggs, Parmesan, mint, flour, black pepper, and nutmeg. Mix until well combined.

Generously dust one rimmed baking sheet with whole wheat pastry flour and another with semolina. Place tablespoons of ricotta mixture onto tray floured with whole wheat and shake tray around to coat balls in flour. Roll gently between your hands until rounded and then place on semolina-lined tray. Set aside.

Bring large pot of water to boil.

In frying pan, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic, and sauté until tomatoes start to break down, about 4 minutes. Add peas, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes, if using. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer slowly for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring pot of water to simmer over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot, gently place malfatti into simmering water. When malfatti float back to the surface, remove carefully with slotted spoon and briefly place spoon on clean kitchen towel to drain off excess water. Divide among warm serving plates and repeat with remaining malfatti. Spoon sauce over top and serve with a garnish of Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 236 calories; 16 g protein; 12 g total fat (5 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 18 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars, 3 g fibre); 227 mg sodium  

Good to the last drop

When you are finished with your wedge of Parmesan cheese, don’t throw away the rind. Take a cue from professional chefs and freeze Parmesan rinds in an airtight container. Next time you make a soup or brodo (stock in Italian) add a piece of Parmesan rind when simmering and discard before serving. You will be amazed at the richness and complexity it adds.

source: “Italian Food the Italian Way“, alive #366, April 2013 

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