Appetizers,  Italian,  Main Course,  Vegetarian

Malfatti {Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings}

Continuing on my classic Italian recipe exploration I discovered Malfatti, a true Italian comfort food.

These spinach and ricotta ‘dumplings’ are soft and tender and practically melt in your mouth.

Jump to Recipe

The simple ingredients come together to form a soft dough. Roll the dough into balls, then boil until they float.

I experimented with the ratio of ricotta & spinach to flour. The result was that the Malfatti held together nicely even when the flour was reduced. Yielding a dumpling with more spinach flavor which is absolutely delicious.

Malfatti are classically served with sage brown butter and crispy sage leaves, one of my most favorite flavor pairings.

Sage Brown Butter

To make sage brown butter, simply melt butter in a skillet over med-low heat, toss in some fresh sage leaves.  Allow to cook, stirring occasionally until butter turns a nice golden brown.  Remove the sage leaves and most the butter to a small dish. Toss several Malfatti dumplings in the same pan, then spoon additional butter and crispy sage leaves over top when plating.

We loved them so much that I’ve made them multiple times over the past several weeks. Because these dumplings taste very mild, the intense sensual flavor of the sage brown butter is fabulous.

That said, I also served the Malfatti plated with a tomato sauce and basil pesto, then topped them with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese. Another fantastic pairing.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Basil Pesto

Malfatti can be made ahead and refrigerated then boiled just before serving. This makes them a wonderful weeknight ‘meatless’ meal or as a first course appetizer for a more formal Italian themed evening.

Malfatti {Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings}

These Malfatti {spinach and ricotta 'dumplings'} are soft and tender and practically melt in your mouth.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6


For the Malfatti

  • 21 ounces fresh spinach discard any hard stems
  • 8 ounces Ricotta cheese drained well
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon frehly grated nutmeg

For the Sage Brown Butter

  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 12-15 fresh sage leaves


For the Malfatti

  • Place ricotta into fine mesh strainer and allow any liquid to drain off.
  • In a large skillet, add spinach with a sprinkle of water and salt over medium heat. Cook covered until wilted, using tongs to turn a couple times during cooking. Drain in a colander until cooled. Place cooked spinach in a clean cotton dish towel and completely wring out all liquid. Finely chop spinach.
  • In a bowl, combine drained ricotta and spinach with egg, parmesan cheese, flour, semolina, salt and nutmeg. Mix until evenly incorporated. Roll into 1 1/2" balls.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook Malfatti in batches in boiling water until they float, about 2-3 minutes.

For the Sage Brown Butter

  • Melt butter in a skillet. Add sage leaves and cook over medium-low heat until sage is crispy and butter is golden brown. Remove the sage leaves and most of the butter to a small bowl. Add the Malfatti to the pan in batches and gently stir to coat. Plate with a spoonful of sage brown butter, crispy sage leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating