Spinach and Walnut Malfatti

One of the many magazines I read (more or less) frequently is Food & Travel, mostly because it comprises my two favourite things in life. I have to admit it is slightly pompous in places and it does provide mostly insights and advice on places I probably never will go to, but looking at the pictures of green valleys and outstanding traditional and regional food does the trick for me anyway.

This is an Italian-inspired recipe. ‘Malfatti’ literally means ‘badly made’, mostly because these spinach balls will turn out very different one from the other and that is their charm. The name evokes a certain nonchalanche when preparing them which is typical Italian (or French, but that’s a different story altogether). They are very easy to make and provide instant comfort. Last note: these are served with a tomato salsa and Parmesan sprinkles. However, due to the flexible nature of malfatti (I sound like an engineer now), these will be fantastic even if you put them in a baking tray with some tomato sauce and bake them, more or less like you would do with lasagne.



Ingredients (for the malfatti)

  • 300g spinach
  • 20g butter
  • 250g ricotta
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk

Ingredients (for the salsa)

  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 15g parsley, roughly chopped

Ingredients (for the sprinkles)

  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 orange, zest only


  1. Put the spinach in a large pan and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt and bring to the boil, by which time the spinach will have wilted. 
  2. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain well, then squeeze out the excess water from the spinach. When done, chop finely and put on kitchen paper.
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat. Once it’s sizzling, sauté the spinach for 4 minutes, stirring often. Put in a colander and put to one side to cool completely. Put a large pan of water on to boil.
  4. Using a food processor, finely grind the walnuts. In a large bowl, combine them with the ricotta, Parmesan and corn flour. Stir in the spinach and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the egg and the egg yolk.
  5. Scatter a baking tray with some flour and another with some oil.
  6. Mould the malfatti into small balls using your hands. Place them on the floured tray. When the water is boiling, throw in 1 tbsp salt and add some malfatti at a time to cook. Wait until the float back to the surface, pretty much like gnocchi. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Let them drain, then put them on the oiled tray.
  7. To make the salsa, warm the olive oil in a pan, then add the tomatoes and parsley. Season lightly with sea salt and  black pepper.
  8. To make the chilli Parmesan sprinkles, simply combine all three ingredients in a bowl.
  9. Serve the malfatti with some salsa e sprinkle with the chilli Parmesan.

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