In my quest to marry the hope of spring with a hearty dinner suitable for these recent cold California evenings, I’ve come along this remarkably bright yet filling main course. Malfatti are Italian dumplings that are boiled like gnocchi, but filled with ricotta, eggs, herbs, and a small amount of flour. This recipe contemplates a variety of spring greens and can be adjusted to whatever is available or in season. Let our hope for spring be eternal!
- Whole-milk ricotta – 2 cups
- 2 large eggs
- All-purpose flour – 2/3rd cup
- One lemon, zested
- Unsalted butter – 4 tbsp.
- Olive oil – 2-4 tbsp.
- Leek, 1 large (white and light green parts only, thinly sliced)
- Asparagus, 1 bunch cut into 3 pieces per stem
- Shelled fresh or frozen peas, 2 cups
- Microgreens, 3 cups (radish sprouts, pea leaves, etc.)
- Mint leaves – ½ cup, diced
- Parmesan – ¼ cup, medium shredded
- Salt & pepper
- Bring a large cooking pot of salted water to a boil.
- Make your dumplings by combining ricotta, eggs, and lemon zest in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix in flour with a wooden spoon – don’t over-mix.
- While the water heats, melt butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook until leeks have softened completely and are starting to pick up some color, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add asparagus and peas to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, occasionally tossing, until asparagus is tender and bright green for 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat while you cook the malfatti.
- With the water at a boil, drop the ricotta mixture into the pot by a heaping spoonful. (malfatti will expand in the water, so make them slightly smaller than you’d like them to end up.).
- Once the malfatti rises to the top, let them boil until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. They are done when the texture is light and fluffy.
- As the dumplings finish cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the skillet with the peas and asparagus. Once they’re all in there, give everything a quick toss over medium heat just to evenly coat the dumplings in the buttery sauce. Add microgreens and mint, and toss just enough to wilt slightly.
- Plate and top with cheese and olive oil.
These sound tasty.
I grew up in Napa where descendants from two sides of creator Theresa Tamburelli’s family each made Malfatti–one kind sold at the Depot restaurant and another at Lawler’s Liquors (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g32766-d10536098-Reviews-Lawler_s_Liquor-Napa_Napa_Valley_California.html)
. And the families still make them. The Union version is now sold at Clemente’s in the Food Mill.(https://www.yelp.com/biz/clementes-takeout-napa-3) Bring your own pan to save money. We like to buy Malfatti and Ravioli from both and have a tasting party.
Read the history.
You don’t need to drive far to taste a sublime (and somewhat lighter) version as Bellanico on Park Blvd. in Oakland serves a true winner. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32810-d1988010-r160753663-Bellanico_Restaurant_and_Wine_Bar-Oakland_California.html