Up until very recently I could not eat spinach if it was cooked. I could pile it high as a salad, or eat some in a sandwich or wrap as long as it was raw, but as soon as it wilted down in boiling water I wouldn't touch it. It was so bad I would gag at the slightest smell of it. Weird, I know. Even more weird is I love pretty much all other greens cooked, including kale, collards, chard; you name it I love it.
As a kid this was fine, since it usually meant I could scramble down from the table early to go play, but as I got older I felt I was missing out on some pretty fantastic meals. So I continued to try it every once in a while, my last attempt was lasagna. I slowly took my first bite and to my surprise I didn't gag, it was good, like I'd been eating cooked spinach all my life. I was kind of excited about this and was bound to add cooked spinach to my kitchen. Have you ever experienced something similar? Or is there a food you still cannot eat?
I'm going to guess not many people have heard of Malfatti, at least it was totally new to me until a few days ago. It's name literally translates to "badly made" or "ill shaped," this is because they are basically made up of the filling for ravioli and are not contained in a dough. They're like little spinach dumplings and melt in your mouth. I paired them with brown butter and a little extra Parmesan, but as soon as tomato season hits you can bet I'll be serving these smothered in a rich tomato sauce.
Next time I would have chopped the spinach a little finer before steaming it. I used parsley in this version, but use whatever herbs you have. They are really easy to put together and cooking time is fast. The only messy part was shaping them into little pieces, but it was still easy to do. I've seen versions that use ricotta in the mix too, which also sounds good.
Adapted from In Seasonserves 4
1 pound spinach
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 egg white
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more as a garnish
1 cup breadcrumbs
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 tablespoon spring herbs (parsley, chives, or fennel), finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon wheat flour
Remove any large stems from the spinach and finely chop the leaves. Steam or cook them in a little salted water until tender. Squeeze out the water. Combine the spinach with the garlic, egg white, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, herbs, salt, and pepper.
Shape the mixture into small dumplings the size of whole walnuts. Roll each lightly in flour, just to coat. The easiest way to cook these is to steam them. Lay them out spaced an inch apart, in a steamer lined with layers of perforated parchment paper, with a little butter or olive oil on the sheets to prevent from sticking. Put the lid on and steam for 10 minutes. I skipped the parchment and mine only stuck a little, use you best judgment. You can also cook these in slow boiling water. Plop them in and wait for them to rise to the surface. Pull them out with a slotted spoon.
Serve with melted butter or your favorite homemade tomato sauce, and garnish with grated Parmesan.