I am wheat intolerant. I used to think I needed a support group to get me through the dark days of lust and withdrawal. But however many years down the line, it’s really not that bad anymore. Whenever one of my recipes calls for flour, know that I mostly use rice flour as a substitute and occasionally will make a mix of different flours to achieve the desired result. I am far more in touch with the food I eat than I was before and far healthier and happier for it. It is always a boon though when you find recipes that do not call for wheat or flour of any sort and you know that you will be having the ‘original version’ so to speak, so I tend to keep an eye out for those. A few years ago now, we first made what Bevan called Ravioli Nudi, so named by our chef friend Marco Nico – think ravioli filling without the pasta. I said I had eaten it before as a ricotta gnocchi; we had a little food tussle, but hey, we made it with a tomato, vodka cream sauce and enjoyed it – whatever it was called! Recently, my dearest friend went to Italy to go sing opera… and indulge in all things Italian! Yuri and I used to think ourselves proper gourmands when we used to make our own gnocchi as students, delicately working our dough so as not to make it tough, and gulping down wine as we went. So I had to smile when – along with photos that had me turning green with envy – he sent me an email with a recipe for… ricotta gnocchi. The Italians call it malfatti, which basically means badly made, so named I guess because there is no flour glue to bind the mixture so it disintegrates a bit and looks rather rustic. You roll the dumplings in flour before boiling, but I used polenta – you could use whatever flour substitute you like. I made it this weekend and because I had no Mooberry ricotta, I used another good brand that unfortunately just did not compare in terms of taste and texture. So I’ll be making it again on Thursday with my Mooberry produce and this time with a gerenous drizzle of burnt butter sage and a sprinkle of parmigiano. Give yourself the hour required to let the mixture firm up in the fridge – it makes all the difference – but know that if you can’t it still works, although just a little more malfattish. This is a super, healthful and quick meal – give it a go!
1 cup cooked, well-drained, chopped spinach
1½ cups ricotta!
1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs or panko (I use fine rye crumbs or polenta)
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup parmesan
¼ cup spring onions finely chopped
1Tbl basil finely shredded
¼ tsp nutmeg for the sauce
1 or 2 cloves garlic minced butter (100g or so)
salt & pepper 10+ sage leaves
flour for rolling
Squeeze your cooked and drained spinach until very dry and then chop it quite finely, then measure your cup. Combine the ricotta, crumbs, egg, parmesan, onions, basil, nutmeg, garlic and seasoning. Refrigerate for an hour.
Put some flour on a dinner plate, take tablespoons of the spinach ricotta mixture and drop into the flour, rolling into logs, cut into chunks of about 3-4cm – there abouts – think rustic dumplings.
Half fill a pot with water and add enough salt to turn it into the Mediterranean, bring that to a simmer. Drop the dumplings into the simmering water in batches. When they rise to the top, they are cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon.
To make the sage butter, heat the butter and sage leaves in a saucepan until the butter is browned and the sage is crisp. Be careful not to burn the butter, but do let it go a proper nut brown. I normally scoop out the sage when crisp and let the butter turn to glory. Pour this hot and nutty sauce over your malfatti, place your sage leaves dramatically and then dust with a snowfall of parmigiano. Insert as many exclamation marks as you can and throw your hands about with passion and meaning as you feast on this provincial Italian dish. Enjoy!!!!