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Best Malfatti Recipes with Spinach, Chard, Ricotta, Other Options

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

Malfatti are tiny dumplings or gnocchi made with spinach and ricotta, that are light and robust with a kaleidescope of flavors inside: chard or spinach, fresh creamy ricotta, grated nutmeg, savory browned butter and herbs, such as sage.

They are somewhat, similar to classic gnoocchi in size and texture, but without potato, or course. They are easy to make. Kids love them. They are ideal for lunch, for snacks or a light lunch.

There are many variations to try, including using a variety of leafy greens, fresh herbs, spices and cheeses. Because Malfatti don't have traditional pasta on the outside, and contain very little flour inside, they are suitable for those on whole foods diets, and also low-carb, high protein diets as well.

Below are some fabulous Malfatti recipes to try.

Malfatti are easy to make. Kids love them.  Healthy too! They are ideal for snacks or a light lunch.
Malfatti are easy to make. Kids love them. Healthy too! They are ideal for snacks or a light lunch. | Source
Malfatti are delicious. There are many variations to try, including using a variety of leafy greens, fresh herbs, spices and cheeses. See fabulous recipes, here.
Malfatti are delicious. There are many variations to try, including using a variety of leafy greens, fresh herbs, spices and cheeses. See fabulous recipes, here. | Source
Nutrients in Malfatti
Serving 100 g
Serving per cup
Calories from Fat
Total Fat (g)
Saturated Fat (g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Sodium (mg)
Total Carbohydrates (g)
Dietary Fiber (g)
Sugars (g)
Protein (g)

Nutrients in Standard Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti

A summary of the nutrients in 100 g and a cup of Malfatti is shown opposite.

The key points are:

► Low calories (122/100g)

► Very low fat (3g/100g)

► High protein (5.9g/100g

► High fiber (5.5g/100g)

► Low Carbs (16.5g/100g)

For comparison the nutrients in 100g of Potato Gnocchi, with comparisons highlighted are:

Calories 133; Fat 6.24g (double); Protein 2.36g (half); Fiber 1g (one fifth); Carbs 17g

Also the nutrients in a 100g serving of Cheese and Spinach Filled Ravioli with Cream Sauce are:

Calories 145; Fat 6.66g (double); Protein 5.85g; Fiber 0.7g (one fifth); Carbs 15.16g.

Clearly Malfatti is the healthier option.

Chard and Ricotta Malfatti Recipe


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound (500g) ricotta
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 24 fresh sage leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  • 1/4 cup general purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard (about 4 pounds; 2kg)


Drain the ricotta in a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Se aside to drain in the refrigerator overnight. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of ricotta cheese.

Heat a large pot of salty water to boiling. Trim the chard, removing any stems or fibrous ridges. Plunge about half of the chard into boiling water and cook until just soft(generally about 3 minutes). Quickly remove the chard and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Cool and cool the remaining chard. Squeeze out any excess moisture in the chard using your hands. Using a kitchen towel spread the chard out in a ring, about the the size of a pie. Roll the towel up and squeeze any extra moisture out of the chard. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. You should have about one cup of dry chard. Place it into a medium size bowl and mix through the ricotta.

Next, melt half the butter in a saucepan. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the chard and ricotta. Then add 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 heaped teaspoon salt and mix thoroughly. Add the egg and the 4 egg yolks and mix again. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

To make the , sprinkle flour over a cutting board. Taking portions of about 1 tablespoon, shape them into balls and put them on the cutting board.

To shape the Malfatti, add a teaspoon of flour to a narrow, dry wineglass. Drop one ball at a time into the glass swirl around until it forms an oval. Repeat this process with several wine glasses. You may freeze them at this point.

To cook the Malfatti, bring a pot of salty water to the boil over moderate heat. Drop Malfatti ovals and cook until they float. This will generally take about 7-8 minutes (10 minutes if frozen). Add the rest of the butter to a small frying pan and heat until bubbling, and starting to release a nutty aroma. Add the sage and cook for about 30-45 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the Malfatti and place on serving plates. Spoon over some of the butter and sage. Add a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Spinach, Ricotta and Parmesan Malfatti


  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 40g (1 oz) plain flour
  • 250g (8 oz)fresh ricotta
  • 200g (7 oz) fine semolina flour
  • 100g (3.5 oz) butter, for serving
  • about 20 fresh sage leaves, for serving
  • 125g (4 oz) Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 500g (1 lb) spinach leaves - washed and dried


Wilt the spinach in a pan using medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Drain the cooked spinach and squeeze out all the water. In a large bowl, mix together the plain flour and ricotta. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg, beaten egg, grated cheese and seasoning.

Flour a chopping board with about half of the semolina. Take about 1 tablespoon of the Malfatti mix at a time and roll on the board into about 25 balls (about the size of a golf ball). Transfer the balls to a tray. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Reduce the heat to a brisk simmer. Then add the Malfatti balls and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the surface float to the surface. Drain and keep warm in the pan used for cooking them.

Next, make the simple butter sauce, by melting the butter in a small pan and gently frying the sage leaves for 30 seconds to activate them. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Assemble the Malfatti onto plates, pour over the buttery sauce. Sprinkle with extra herbs and Parmesan, and serve.

© 2014 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • VVanNess profile image

    Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

    Yum! This looks amazing! Tomato, spinach and cheese . . . You can't go wrong with that mixture! Great article!

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

    Oh, now, this looks so delicious! Great photos and now I am so hungry. I will surely try this one. Thank you for sharing.

    Up and more and sharing.


    Faith Reaper

  • profile image

    Ghaelach 3 years ago

    Love the combination of spinach and cheese. This is going on my list of must try. The foto's are great.Thanks for sharing.

    LOL Ghaelach

  • lcbenefield profile image

    lcbenefield 3 years ago from Georgia

    Never heard of these before but they sound great. I may try making these soon.

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