The naked ravioli – Malfatti “gratinés” in a spicy tomato sauce
I ravioli nudi – Malfatti gratinati con salsina di pomodoro
After this Thanksgiving celebration, it’s good to go back to a healthier kind of cuisine. The turkey ended up so dry, due to a guest arriving over an hour late, and my new oven with circular heat that cooks three times faster than traditional oven. I think I am so done with the turkey anyway. Arriving 20 minutes late to a sit down dinner when food is served is fine, but one hour is somehow rude. Don’t you think? everyone has its “acceptable” time and for me 20 minutes is the limit. An unforeseen circumstance might also happen but that’s not something that happens on a regular basis.
Malfatti or Gnudi is a traditional Tuscan dish…I make them often but never think of posting them. It’s basically ravioli without dough called “gnudi” in Tuscan meaning “naked” or also “malfatti” meaning “not well made”, they’re either served with a gorgonzola sauce, a béchamel or tomato sauce and baked in the oven. I like it with a light and spicy tomato sauce, then you can just play around with them and see what you prefer. There is no meat just vegetables and cheese, so it’s quite a light dish.
I like traditional and rustic dishes like this one, because they’re peasant food and you cannot find them in the stores nor in restaurants, so it’s basically recipes you find only at people’s houses. Tuscan and Marchigiana cuisine are quite similar with slight variations since they’re two regions in Central Italy. Growing up on Marchigiana cuisine, Tuscan cuisine is not completely foreign to me. Even after living half of her life in France, my mom still cooks traditional Marchigiana cuisine and barely makes French food. She would make quiches or choucroute once in her while but that’s it. I guess no matter where you move, and for how long, you are still attached to what you are used to eating growing up.
I did not put the flour quantity, you need to add enough so that the spinach/ricotta mixture is no longer soft but still a little sticky. If you put too much flour, the ravioli will get heavy and chewy. You just have to play with the flour. It took me a few times before making them just right.
Ingredients about 20 ravioli
For the ravioli
- 1/2 lb ricotta
- about 1/2 lb fresh spinach
- 6 tbs parmigiano reggiano, grated (+ 2 for sprinkling on top)
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper
For tomato sauce
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seedless, crushed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 basil leaves
- chili powder
- 2 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the sauce
Heat olive oil in a pot, add garlic, stir to get the flavor out, add basil, tomatoes, chili pepper, salt and pepper, and cook until the tomato is cooked for about 15 minutes.
For the ravioli
Cook spinach in a large pot of boiling and salted water for about 5-10 minutes, depending if you use baby spinach or regular ones. Drain, let them cool and remove excess water by squeezing with your hands. Chop them.
In a large mixing bowl, mix spinach, ricotta, parmesan, eggs, flour salt and pepper. At this point, you need to play with the flour, try getting a soft mixture not too sticky, but not too thick. It still needs to stick to your fingers a little bit.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Start making the gnudi. Add about 1 cup of flour to a plate, and start forming small balls with spinach/ricotta mixture the size of a big walnut. Coat them well with flour.
When water is boiling carefully, add gnudi to the water, it’s better to cook about 10 at one time, so they have enough water and space too cook. When gnudi come out at the surface, remove them, and drain. Proceed the same way for the second batch.
Place in a oven tray and pour some sauce on top, sprinkle with parmigiano and olive oil, then cook in a pre-heated oven at 375F for about 20 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Serve hot.
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