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Spinach Malfatti with Saffron-Roasted Fennel

Malfatti are misshapen gnocchi, so don’t worry if yours are not perfect rounds! Make them when you have lots of fresh spinach and the tomatoes are sweet and ripe. Adding saffron to the fennel gives it a lovely bright colour, and there’s no need to discard the frondy tops. We create our malfatti with freshly made soya ricotta.

Spinach Malfatti with Saffron-Roasted Fennel

Soya Ricotta

Makes 125g | Prep time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500ml unsweetened soya milk
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Pour the soya milk into a large stainless steel saucepan and place over a medium heat. Let it warm gradually. The soya milk will get foamy and start to steam, remove it from the heat when it starts to simmer. It will reach around 95C on an instant read thermometer.
  2. Remove the soya milk from the heat. Pour the lemon juice in and stir once gently to combine.
  3. Let the saucepan of soya milk sit undisturbed for a few minutes. After this time the soya milk should have separated into clumps of soya milky white curds and thin, watery whey — dip your slotted spoon into the mix to check. If you still see a lot of un-separated soya milk, bring back to temperature and wait a few more minutes.
  4. When the curds and whey have split and the whey is clear leave to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Strain the curds: Set a strainer or sieve over a bowl or sink and line the strainer with muslin. Pour the curds and the whey through the strainer.
  6. Leave the curds to sit for 10minutes to drain thoroughly.
  7. Use or store the soya ricotta: it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Spinach Malfatti

Serves 4 

Prep time: 40 minutes | Cooking time: 3 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh spinach leaves, stalks removed
  • 125g fresh soya ricotta
  • 3 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 garlic clove, pureed with a pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp pul biber pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 60g pasta flour, sifted

Method

  1. Wash the spinach and place into a pan with a lid, heat until the spinach has just wilted in its own juices, refresh under cold water, then drain.
  2. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then weigh the spinach - you should have about 250g of spinach after all the water has been squeezed out.
  3. Chop the spinach up very finely with a knife (don’t use a machine as that would make too much of a puree).
  4. Place the soya ricotta into a large bowl and mash it up. Add the spinach, nutritional yeast, garlic puree, pul biber pepper, lemon zest and juice, salt, black pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  5. Mix well, then more gently mix in the sifted flours, being careful not to overwork it.
  6. Divide the mix into four. Roll each piece into a sausage shape and cut into 16 small 1cm slices, roll each one into a small ball.
  7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a generous amount of salt.
  8. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Carefully add your malfatti to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd, once they have popped up to the surface which should take a minute, poach for 2 minutes.
  9. When the malfatti are cooked through and slightly puffed up, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and serve.

Saffron Roasted Fennel

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Big pinch of saffron
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 large bulb of fennel
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C Fan.
  2. Place the saffron in a small bowl. Pour the water over the saffron and leave for 10 minutes until the colour of the water is golden.
  3. Cut the fennel in half, then slice each half into 8 thin wedges, keeping the full length of the fennel intact. Trim a few leafy fronds off and put to one side for decoration later.
  4. Lay out the fennel slices onto a baking tray and pour over the saffron, drizzle over the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  5. Roast in a hot oven for 30 minutes until the fennel is tender and caramelised around the edges.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 400g cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan.
  2. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a roasting tray.
  3. Drizzle over the olive oil.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes or until the garlic is soft and can be squeezed from its skin.
  5. Allow the tomatoes to cool, then remove them from the vine and place in a blender.
  6. Leave a few whole tomatoes for decorating the plate.
  7. Squeeze the garlic from its skin and add to the blender along with the basil and balsamic vinegar, blend until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste. 


Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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