Chef Larry's Bistro
Recipe of the Week
Packed with fresh spinach and ricotta cheese, these Malfatti are an easy homemade pasta that will quickly become a family favorite!
For the Malfatti
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 1 15-oz. container whole milk ricotta drained
- 16 oz. fresh spinach
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- ½ tsp kosher salt
For the Sauce
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium diced white onion
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
Using a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse spinach in cold water.
Drain off cold water and use several paper towels to press as much water as possible out of the spinach. Using either a knife or a food processor, finely chop spinach. Place chopped spinach in a large bowl.
Add all-purpose flour, semolina flour, ricotta, egg, Parmesan and salt; mix until well combined. (Note: If mixture if still wet, add a couple more tablespoons of semolina flour.)
Roll mixture into individual 1½” balls; transfer malfatti to a sheet pan. Repeat process until all of the mixture has been used.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add malfatti and cook until they float to the surface (~2-4 minutes). Set cooked malfatti aside to drain.
While the malfatti drain, make the sauce by adding olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, crushed tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
To serve, add sauce to plates and top with malfatti.
Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese before serving.
As one of the world’s most loved cuisines it might be a surprise to learn that a true Italian cuisine hardly exists. The truth is Italian food is still largely considered by regions – with each region in Italy creating its own unique cuisine. These cooking traditions define people’s identities just as much as their dialects and their traditional costumes. Local cooking preferences and customs are shaped by geographic, historical, and climactic differences: some regions are landlocked and mountainous, others hug the sea and are hilly; some regions have absorbed Arab or Greek influences, others have been marked by the French or Austrians; some regions live under the dazzling Mediterranean sun most of the year, others have cold winters, snow, fog, and harsh winds.
Each region, and then province and city, adds its treasure to the national identity of Italian food, but the best option is to eat the local plates in every region
Regional food preferences and cooking styles vary widely across Italy. Each recipe, each dish has its own history. Some recipes are thousands of years old and have changed very little over the course of time; others were born in the Renaissance or after the discovery of the New World, when a wealth of new foodstuffs like tomatoes, beans, peppers, zucchini, corn, and cocoa reached European shores; still others appeared in the last decade or so, novel elaborations on ancient themes.
Every one of Italy’s 20 regions has a distinctive cuisine – partly shaped by climate and terrain, partly due to history. You’ll find truffles and creamy Gorgonzola in the mountainous northern region of Piedmont; cured meat and flavorful tomatoes in the fertile central region of Umbria; and artichokes and seafood in Sicily, at Italy’s southern tip.
These ingredients are often used in sauces and paired with pasta shapes specifically designed to hold the sauce in the best way possible. For this reason, many regions have created their own pasta shapes – although their origin is often hotly disputed among Italians!
In conclusion, it should come as no surprise that each region’s quintessential dish is the perfect complement for its quintessential wine. In Italy wine and food go hand in hand — one is never being served without the other.
A common Italian toast before a meal, cento anni is a wish for one hundred years of health, and we could easily spend that amount of time discussing Italian fare, but we’d much rather be sampling risotto in Venice, ordering Osso bucco in Lombardy, eating truffles in Piedmonte or investigating the finer points of a slice of true Neapolitan pizza while sipping a glass of wine along with good friends !
Buono appetite !