Some days you need comfort. And some days that comfort takes the form of little pillows of speckled ricotta dumplings on a bed of blood red tomato sauce.
At their simplest, malfatti can be served with a warm sage butter sauce. Just melt the butter in a pan and scatter with sage leaves, cook on a medium heat for half a minute and finished with a shower of lemon juice. Served on small plates, this makes a really nice starter.
But a rich velvety tomato sauce, a bigger plate and more malfatti on it, turns it into lunch.
For the malfatti
50g plain flour
A good pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 tin plum or cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
Make the tomato sauce. In a pot, add about two tablespoons of olive oil and gently sautee the onion until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes.
Add the tomatoes and crush them into the onions. Season.
Cook for about 10 minutes and keep on a low flame while you make the malfatti.
Wilt the spinach in a pan with a splash of water and allow to cool. Once cool, squeeze as much water out as you can and finely chop.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, plain flour, egg, nutmeg and half of the parmesan. Season.
Mix the ingredients well together. Using your hands, or two spoons, shape the mixture into ping pong sized balls. It doesn’t matter if they are a bit misshapen, malfatti means ‘badly formed’. You should get about 15 – 20.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add salt and then add the malfatti to the pot in two batches. They should take about 3 minutes. They will rise to the top of the water when they are done.
Spoon a dollop of tomato sauce into two shallow bowls, add the malfatti and scatter the remaining parmesan like confetti.