Start to make use of spring ingredients with Philippa Davis' sorrel and spinach malfatti with caramelised butter and parmesan

Spring has not quite sprung, but certain ingredients are appearing in the kitchen to signal that it is on its way. Sorrel is a fantastic herb, full of flavour and great for adding freshness and lightness. Philippa Davis’ sorrel and spinach malfatti with caramelised butter and parmesan are guaranteed to impress. Malfatti roughly translates as ‘badly formed’, and hails from the Lombardi region in Italy.

For more inspiration for a spring supper party, our Portuguese-style mussel stew is a lighter option to hearty, winter feasts – yet is still comforting enough for when the temperatures are low.


Malfatti, roughly translating as ‘badly formed’, are from the Lombardi region in Italy and are similar to gnocchi. The sour tartness of the sorrel adds a freshness and lightness.

Serves 4

  • 500g spinach
  • 100g sorrel
  • 250g ricotta
  • 100g semolina
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 80g grated parmesan, plus a little extra for serving
  • ¼tsp grated nutmeg
  • Half a lemon
  • 80g butter

Set aside a small handful of spinach leaves then gently wilt the rest with the sorrel in a pan. Leave to drain and cool in a sieve.

Squeeze any excess moisture out of the spinach and sorrel then roughly chop.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, 60g of semolina, flour, egg, parmesan, nutmeg and zest from the lemon. Add in the chopped spinach mix and season with salt and pepper.

Dust a flat tray with the remainder of the semolina.

Form the ricotta mix into fairly rustic balls and spread out on the tray – you should make about 20.

These can be kept in the fridge until you are ready to eat. They will last a couple of days but are best eaten within 12 hours.

On a low heat, melt the butter in a frying pan, fry the reserved spinach leaves until dark green then drain on kitchen paper. Don’t wash the pan.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the malfatti and wait for them to bob to the surface (this will only take a couple of minutes). Gently simmer for 2 minutes then scoop out with a slotted spoon into the pan with the butter from the fried spinach.

Gently sauté the balls for a couple of minutes then squeeze over the lemon juice.

Serve straight away on a warm plate with extra grated parmesan and a few leaves of crispy spinach.