In some parts of Italy these large gnocchi made without potatoes or flour are called (‘badly made’); in others, they are known as gnocchi verdi (‘green gnocchi’); and, in Florence, ravioli nudi (‘naked ravioli’), because they look like ravioli filling without the pasta. For these light gnocchi to hold together, the ricotta needs to be very dry – if it seems too wet, leave it to drain in a colander over the sink for about 30 minutes. Malfatti are very tasty and delicate and don’t need much sauce. Here I suggest just melted butter and sage and lots of parmesan, but you could also serve them with fresh tomato sauce (see page 51).
- 1 kg silverbeet (Swiss chard)
- 350 g ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 120 g freshly grated parmesan
- a few gratings of nutmeg
- sea salt
- plain flour, for dusting
- 80 g butter
- 1 tablespoon sage leaves, roughly chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
Remove and discard the white stalks from the silverbeet and wash the leaves well. Blanch the silverbeet leaves in boiling salted water for a minute or so, just until they have wilted. Drain, refresh in ice-cold water and squeeze dry, then chop very finely. Combine the silverbeet and ricotta in a bowl, then add the eggs, half the parmesan, the nutmeg and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Have a bowl of flour ready. Flour your hands and, using a teaspoon and the palms of your hands, roll the silverbeet mixture into walnut-sized balls. When they are all done, roll the gnocchi in flour and leave to rest for 30–40 minutes.
Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water. Place them on a plate, then tilt the plate over the boiling water and let the gnocchi slide into the water. (You may need to do this in small batches if your pan is not big enough.) As the gnocchi rise to the surface, lift them out using a slotted spoon, drain well and place on individual serving plates.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a frying pan over low–medium heat. Add the sage, let it sizzle for moment then pour the butter and sage over the gnocchi. Serve very hot, with a sprinkling of pepper and the remaining parmesan.
Extract from The Art of Pasta by Lucio Galletto and David Dale, published by Lantern Australia on 30 July 2018, RRP $39.99.
Photography by Anson Smart and illustrations by Luke Sciberras