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Ricotta and Spinach Dumplings
Malfatti or Ravioli Nudi
Ricotta and Spinach Dumplings - Malfatti or Ravioli Nudi
Ricotta and Spinach Dumplings make a delicious appetizer, vegetarian main course, or side dish
to grilled sausages, poultry, or beef.  In Florence the dumplings are referred to as ravioli nudi
(naked ravioli) because the mixture might well be the filling for ravioli without the pasta dough. 
In Venice they are called malfatta which means "badly made."  This term may refer to them being
badly made ravioli, since there is no pasta dough, or their irregular shape. 

The key to a lightly-textured dumpling is to not add too much flour.  You want just enough to hold
the mixture together without getting too heavy and dry.  Start by adding just a tablespoon or two of
flour.  When you begin to cook the dumplings, we recommend that you make a test ball. 
The dumpling should retain its shape and rise to the surface after a minute or two.  If it falls apart,
the dumpling mixture is too moist.  Simply add another tablespoon of flour and test again.
Serve the dumplings with melted butter, or a butter and sage sauce, and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. 
They are also good with traditional tomato sauce that is thinned a little with cream or a vodka sauce.
Makes 16 (1-1/2 inch) dumplings

Ingredients:

6 to 8 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 to 4 tablespoons flour

Directions:

To prepare the spinach:
Remove any tough stems from the spinach.  Place the spinach in a large
skillet over medium heat.  Cook the spinach until completely wilted, turning
often, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer the spinach to a strainer and allow to
cool enough for you to handle it.  Squeeze any excess water from the
spinach and then coarsely chop.

To prepare the dumplings:
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, egg yolks, and Parmesan
cheese.  Mix well and season with salt, pepper, and a good pinch of fresh
nutmeg.  Add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds
together.  Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour.

With floured hands, roll the dumpling mixture into 1-/12 inch balls or 
2 x 1-inch ovals. You may also use a similar-sized cookie scoop to place the
dumplings directly into the water.

To cook the dumplings:
Fill a wide, shallow saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a
simmer.  Add about half of the dumplings to the simmering water.  Don't
crowd them. Cook the dumplings for 2 to 3 minutes, gently stirring
occasionally.  The dumplings will float to the surface of the water when they
are done.  Remove them with a slotted spoon. Continue cooking the
remaining dumplings.

To serve:
When the dumplings are cooked, you may simply place them on top of your
sauce, top them with grated Parmesan and serve.  Or you may drizzle them
with melted butter or your favorite sauce and serve them immediately.

If you wish to make the dumplings ahead of time, you can refrigerate them
after they are cooked.  Remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before
baking and then place them in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes.  Serve
with sauce and Parmesan cheese.
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