Malfatti

08 February 2012

Malfatti means badly made in Italian. The name of this dish originates from the fact that these delicious little dumplings are essentially ravioli filling without the pasta so they tend to be roughly formed, but they don't have to be haphazard you can take as much or as little care as you have patience for making them pretty and uniform or rustic and varied. Either way they are nice especially if you take the time to make some ricotta yourself (which is very easy.)

  • 1 bunch chard blanched, drained, chopped fine and drained some more
  • 1 lb. (about 2 cups) ricotta, preferably home-made)
  • 2 eggs (plus a little more if the malfatti turn out to be too loose)
  • 3/4 cup or so of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus a little more to taste
  • 6 large sage leaves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Flour for dusting the malfatti

 

Wash the chard leaves and remove stems (chop and cook the stems separately for a nice little side dish.) In a medium-large pot of moderately salty boiling water blanch the chard leaves for 2-4 minutes just until they're tender. Remove the chard from the water with a slotted-spoon or spider. Ideally they'd get shocked in a bowl of ice-water at this point so they don't keep cooking, but a little cold water rinse will do also. Drain the chard. Ball it up and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop finely and place on a paper towel to continue drying so that there is very little water left in the chard when the time comes to add it to the malfatti batter.

While the chard is drying put the ricotta into a large mixing bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt. With the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula press the ricotta into the side of the bowl. Mix the cheese like this until it is nice and smooth and fluffy. Add two lightly beaten eggs to the cheese and mix them in well.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with the chopped sage and cook briefly, just a minute or so longer than it takes to melt the butter. Add the melted butter with sage and the chopped chard to the bowl and mix thoroughly into the ricotta mixture. Mix in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if it needs more salt.

Now! We're ready to test the batter:

In a small saucepan boil some water (just enough so that it's about two inches dep.) With two teaspoons form some of the batter into a small dumpling and roll it in the flour. When the water has come to a boil lower the heat so that it's just simmering gently and drop the test dumpling in. It will float to the surface after about a minute or two and should be cooked for 3-5 minutes after that, just until its firm. If it doesn't ever get firm beat another egg, mix one tablespoon of the beaten egg into the batter and make another test dumpling.

At this point you should be ready to form all the batter into dumplings, roll them in flour and cook them in a large, wide pot of lightly salted, boiling water. Have a saute pan ready to go with some butter to lightly brown the malfatti when they come out of the water and serve them right away just as they are, with a little grated parm, or a light tomato sauce.

These malfatti will be delicious just as they are, but if you want to add a little something special to the presentation and a crispy component to the dish garnish them with a few {fried sage leaves}.