“Sheep’s milk ricotta cheese and spinach: the most perfect combination that has ever been made.“
From Siena to Arezzo in one of the most typical dishes. Depending on the area, it changes the name: Malfatti in Siena, Gnudi towards Arezzo.
The combination of the ricotta cheese and spinach is well-known to be wonderful. The third mandatory ingredient, which gives the perfect touch, is nutmeg: absolutely never without it.
In either case, Malfatti or Gnudi, means something unfinished, which miss a part: these are essentially ravioli without the pasta covering. Naked ravioli! The archaic Italian word Ignudo, means Naked.
Their shape is like gnocchi, they are green for the spinach mixed with the ricotta cheese. Served with melted butter and sage, it’s delicate but still rich: each one is coated of butter, and the sage is a discreet protagonist in every bite. The freshness of the ingredients is at the base of this recipe, especially for the ricotta, which is easily perishable.
It is a winter iron-rich vegetable, very good both raw and cooked.
Since it is rich in water, it doesn’t need large amount of water to be boiled: spinach will release their own water. Just two, three glasses it is enough to cook 1 kilo: when water is boiling add salt and then spinach. Push them down a bit to fit them all, and turn it upside down halfway the cooking time. They will need about 4/5 minutes to be ready. You can eat it right away, seasoned as you prefer, or use them in many others recipes as crepes, quiche, seasoning pasta or for filling. As we wrote spinach are rich in water (so imagine after boiled), for this reason squeeze them well with your hands, as if you squeeze a sponge, then proceed with your recipe.
- 500 gr spinach leaves
- 400 gr ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 8 tbsp grated Parmigiano cheese (4 for the preparation, 4 for serving)
- Grated nutmeg
- Salt, black pepper
- All-purpose flour
- 125 gr butter
- Sage leaves
- Wash the spinach carefully and remove any yellow or rotten leaves. Pour 2/3glasses of water in a pot to a boil, add salt and blanch the leaves for 2minutes: drain very well and let them cool down the temperature. Squeeze the spinach as wrote above. On a cutting board finely mince the spinach and transfer in a bowl.
- In the bowl add also the ricotta cheese, the 4 tbsp of Parmigiano, the egg, ground nutmeg, salt and mix well.
- Prepare small oval-shaped meatballs, lightly flour them and align them on a floured plate. Making rissoles with this humid mixture could be difficult, it will sticky on your hands. Here is the solution! Take two tbsp’s. The first one, fill it halfway with what you have mixed in the bowl; the second one use it as a small shovel to free the first tbsp of its load and if the shape is not yet satisfactory, use again the first tbsp in reverse order, until you get the shape of a quenelle.
- Melt butter with sage leaves and keep warm.
- Bring another large pot of water (be generous this time, as for cookingpasta) to boil and add salt. Drop the Gnudi into the boiling water; drain with a slotted spoon soon as they float to the surface and transfer to a heated serving bowl.
- Add the sauce to the Gnudi, toss gently and serve immediately with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano.
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