Malfatti or Gnocchi Gnudi (Pasta Without the Pasta)

Total Time
Prep 20 mins
Cook 10 mins

This is also referred to as ricotta and spinach gnocchi or ravioli gnudi. I find this recipe to be a little bit time consuming, but well worth the trouble. This is a pasta dish without the pasta and very low in carbs. Without the added breadcrumbs, these little dumplings are tender and light. Note that the instructions will belabor the issue of draining and squeezing out the spinach until dry. It's important!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 4 lbs spinach (after cleaning and trimming stems, this should yield about 2 1/2 pounds of useable spinach)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (fresh)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 14 teaspoon nutmeg (grated)
  • 12 cup parmesan cheese (grated fine)
  • breadcrumbs (very dry, up to 1/4 cup, only if necessary)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • flour, for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons butter (melted)


  1. Wash the cleaned spinach and shake off the moisture until only a small amount of water clings to the leaves. Steam lightly until just wilted. Drain the spinach well.
  2. Put the spinach into a lint-free dish towel and squeeze out the water. Twist the dish towel and squeeze more water out. Keep squeezing the spinach until you truly believe that you've gotten all the water out. Now, continue to squeeze out the remaining water. Spread out the spinach onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towels to soak up any remaining moisture. If it looks sort of dry and a bit stringy, you're ready to move on.
  3. Mix the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Chop the spinach into small pieces. Do not use a food processor for this process, you are looking for pieces not puree. Add the spinach to the ricotta mixture.
  5. Pull out a small ball of "dough" and make a walnut-shaped dumpling. The dough will be very very soft, but it should hold together. If you truly believe that you MUST add some breadcrumbs, do so a little bit at a time. Added breadcrumbs will take away from the angel's pillow tenderness that true malfatti boast. Continue on with shaping the little balls.
  6. Lightly dust each dumpling with the flour and set aside on a cookie sheet, being careful to use the smallest amount of flour for each dumpling.
  7. Boil 10 cups of salted water in a large pot. When the water is boiling, turn down the heat so you get a nice simmer.
  8. Drop the malfatti into the water one at a time, making sure that you don't crowd them in the pot. As the dumplings rise to the surface, carefully pull them out using a strainer spoon and place in a large bowl.
  9. After all the malfatti are in the bowl, sprinkle on the butter and plate. Serve with a light tomato cream sauce and a good dusting of the best parmesan cheese you can find.
Most Helpful

My husband and I thought that 4 lbs of spinach was WAY too much so we ended up using 6 oz. It was still a little too much but we worked with it. We tried testing one out because it just didn't seem as though it would stay together. Good thing! It completely disentegrated in the water when we tried to cook it. After reading other recipes for gnudi, we added about 3/4 cups of flour to the mixture and it held together much better. I am giving this 1 star for the taste, because the taste was pretty good but we felt the amount of the ingredients was way off, especially the fact that it doesn't call for any flour. We made it with a sage and brown butter sauce.

bunny_rabbit September 10, 2011