Granda Menna’s Kitchen: malfatti or gnudi


One recipe, two names: malfatti (badly made) in Siena, gnudi (naked) in Florence. The result is still guaranteed, whether you want to speak in the language of Tozzi* and feel yourself in the center of the world in the Piazza del Campo, or you want to use the spoken language of Pratolini**, and get lost in the streets of San Frediano. Malfatti, because their characteristic is to be irregular, different, home made and a bit lumpy. Gnudi because they are ultimately the filling for ravioli, without the external dress of home-made pasta!

However they are called, these dumplings of spinach and ricotta are characterized by the same easy execution and certainly by the same deliciousness: they are good and simple, their few ingredients remind us of family dinners, of women around a table who move their hands automatically and wisely, while the words fly and go to pay a visit – in a round of gossip and confidences – to neighbors and relatives.

Malfatti  Malfatti-Book-Semptember-2012

Gnudi or malfatti
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Tuscan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
You'll need
  • 250 g spinach, previously boiled and squeezed
  • 250 g fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano
  • Nutmeg
  • Flour
How to make it
  1. Whether fresh or frozen, boil the spinach with some salt, drain and press it dry.
  2. Sauté spinach in a pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and once cool, chop it finely with a knife. Mix the spinach with the same weight of fresh ricotta and add at least two tablespoons of grated Parmigiano.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and a good pinch of grated nutmeg, then add one beaten egg: mix thoroughly.
  4. Now make the malfatti. Use plenty of flour to shape small hazelnut-size balls with your hands. The flour will work as a protective film, preventing malfatti from melting into the boiling water.
  5. Arrange them on a tray well spaced from each other.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook malfatti in batches.
  7. When they rise to the top – it will take just a few minutes, sometimes it only one – lift them out with a slotted spoon and season them.
  8. They are excellent served with butter and sage, or with a simple tomato sauce and a good sprinkle of grated cheese.

* Federigo Tozzi, Senese writer 1883 – 1929, is the author of famous works as with Con gli occhi chiusi (With closed eyes) or Tre Croci (Three Crosses).

** Vasco Pratolini, Florentine writer 1913 – 1991, is the author of famous novels (and very beautiful) as Cronache di poveri amanti (Chronicle of Poor Lovers), or Le ragazze di San Frediano (Girls of San Frediano).

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