Friday, 25 July 2014

RECIPE: SPINACH AND RICOTTA MALFATTI WITH ROSEMARY BUTTER








I first had malfatti (which roughly translates as "badly made" from the Italian) at one of my favourite restaurants in London, Bocca Di Lupo, where these little cheesy dumplings are served with brown sage butter.  Since they're seasonal at Bocca, I've had to start making them myself at home to get my creamy gnocchi-esque fix all year round, but while I also use spinach I replace the sage with rosemary for the butter.  As I love rosemary and it's easier to come by at my local shops.

These are pretty easy to make, the most time consuming element is squeezing the water from the spinach, and forming the mixture into small balls.  But it's totally worth it when they all bubble up to the top of the water, then you pour butter over them, grate some parmesan on top and cut into their melty yumminess.

Is "yumminess" a word?

INGREDIENTS
250g spinach
250g ricotta
50g grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
40g plain flour (I have also made them using gluten free flour and they work just as well)
salt and pepper
75g of butter (I used buffalo milk butter as we had some in the fridge, but any butter is fine)
A couple of stems of fresh rosemary, well, as much as you like really

Steam the spinach until it's completely wilted.  If you don't have a steamer you can also boil it in salted water although this means it takes longer to squeeze the water from it.  Once it has wilted keep the water you've been using for either method, it should look like green pond water - you can cook the malfatti in it later for extra flavour.  Squeeze the water out of the spinach.  I normally put it in a sieve and press down on it with spoons and dab it with paper towels for as long as I can stand.  Once you've had enough, or you think you've got it as dry as possible, roughly chop up the spinach.

In a bowl mix together the ricotta, grated parmesan and salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and sift in the flour then mix it until it forms a dough.  You might need to use extra flour as you form the malfatti as the dough is quite wet.  I tend to do a test dumpling - I make one and then drop it in boiling water.  If it stays together and rises to to the top of the pan after a couple of minutes then I know I've got my quantities right.  I usually make my malfatti so they're about the size of a walnut, so you feel like you're getting more of them!  But you could also make them larger.  Place them on a floured plate so they don't stick.

Heat up the butter in the pan over a low heat until it has melted, then add the rosemary and let it all heat up together.  It's ok if the butter bubbles a bit or even browns.  While that's cooking get the green pond water from earlier and boil it up, you might need to add extra water so there is lots of room for the malfatti to bounce around it.  When the water is boiling gently add the malfatti, you'll be tempted to stir them but don't, they're quite fragile until they're cooked, which they will be after about four minutes when they rise to the top of the pan.  Drain them and pour over the hot rosemary butter, spooning it over each dumpling as you go so they all get covered.  Grate parmesan cheese over the top and then eat them as fast as you can.

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