The Book of Greens from Portland Chef Jenn Louis comes out in April, but I’m not going to be able to wait that long to talk about the kale malfatti with brown butter and pumpkin.By then, we’ll be at the very tail end of squash season, and you don’t want to miss out on making this one. If this recipe was the teaser, I can’t wait to cook from the rest of the book.
Malfatti are simply little ricotta dumplings or gnocchi roughly shaped into disks. I’d never made them before, though I’ve eaten my fair share of ricotta gnocchi. In a way, they’re like the ricotta and spinach mixture in an Americanized lasagna. Instead of holding up some noodles, these little dumplings get to stand out on their own, matched with sweet butternut squash cooked in brown butter.
The word malfatti means “badly made,” so the lumps and the bumps are par for the course. No one is expecting perfection. And with a “dough” as moist as this one, you’re not gonna get it. Both fresh and grocery store ricotta produced a wet dough, it’s just the nature of the beast. You shouldn’t expect to roll these between your hands into balls. Even swirling them in a wine glass was a stretch, they’re much too delicate for that. You’ll want to have plenty of semolina on hand, and a well-floured baking sheet. Don’t skimp.
Like I said, the point here isn’t a perfectly shaped disk, so don’t be put off. These dumplings are easy to make and they’re delicious. OJ gobbled these up after I shot them, marveling, “Wow, these are really good.”
Kale Malfatti with Brown Butter and PumpkinPrint Recipe
- 1 pound [455 g] kale
- 9 ounces [255 g] ricotta
- 2 eggs
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2/3 cup [40 g] lightly packed finely grated Pecorino-Romano, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Semolina, for dusting
- ¾ cup [170 g] unsalted butter 4 sage leaves
- 1½ cups [175 g] peeled, seeded, and finely diced pumpkin
Blanch the kale, then wring out completely until greens are in a dry ball. Finely chop. Combine the greens with the ricotta, eggs, a grating of fresh nutmeg, Pecorino-Romano, and flour; season with salt and pepper. Scoop into small balls (approximately 1 tablespoon) and place on a heavily floured baking sheet. Note: The
texture of the mixture may vary depending on the size of the eggs and moisture of the ricotta. It should have the texture of spreadable cheese, with no pooling. If pooling, allow to drain in a sieve for a while, then add cream or milk tablespoon by tablespoon until desired consistency is achieved.
Pour 1 inch [2.5 cm] of semolina into a large red wine glass or a plastic pint container, and swirl each ball until an imperfectly shaped round is formed. Place the balls on the floured baking sheet and let sit for 4 hours, or overnight, covered with a clean kitchen towel in the refrigerator. (Rotate
after 2 hours to evenly spread semolina).
Chop the butter into small pats and brown slowly over medium to medium-low heat with 4 sage leaves. As soon as the butter melts, add a squeeze of lemon and the pumpkin and cook until tender, about 5 minutes; be careful to adjust the heat as needed so the butter doesn’t get too dark. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the malfatti in gently simmering, salted water for about 4 minutes. When done, remove malfatti from water with a slotted spoon and gently place in dishes. Garnish with the pumpkin and brown butter. Sprinkle Pecorino-Romano over the top of the malfatti and serve.
OTHER GREENS THAT WORK IN THIS RECIPE chard, spinach
Reprinted with permission from The Book of Greensby Jenn Louis, copyright © 2017. Photography by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.