Spinach and Bread Gnocchi


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The word malfatti means ‘badly made’, so in other words they can look quite roughly shaped, without too much concern for elegant presentation. There is another version of this dish, which uses ricotta cheese as an ingredient as well as the spinach, but the version given here is reputedly the much older recipe from the Medici kitchens. Malfatti are traditionally served simply with melted, warm, unsalted butter, but they can also be accompanied by a basic tomato sauce. The recipe, in very similar forms, exists in various parts of the country, including the Veneto, but this is the most classically Tuscan version.


  • 1.3 kg/3 lb fresh spinach
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp single/light cream
  • 150 g/5 oz stale bread, soaked in milk to cover for ½ hour
  • 150 g/5 oz/ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 ml/¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg up to 75 ml/5 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • 115 g/4 oz/10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Steam or boil the spinach for 1-2 minutes until soft. Drain and leave to cool. Squeeze out the water, then chop finely.

  2. Put the spinach in a large bowl and stir in the eggs and egg yolks, then the cream.

  3. Squeeze the bread dry with your hands, then mix it into the spinach with half the Parmesan. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

  4. Using your fingers and a very light touch (see Cook’s Tip), form the mixture into small dumplings, using a small amount of flour to prevent sticking.
  5. Transfer the dumplings carefully, in small batches, into the boiling water. Cook the gnocchi for no more than 2-3 minutes - they will be ready when they float freely on the surface of the water.
  6. Carefully remove the cooked gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon and arrange them on a warmed serving dish. Continue in this way, with the remaining batches, until all the gnocchi are cooked.
  7. Smother the gnocchi with the melted butter, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.