Getting Started With Homemade Pasta: Malfatti

Jump to the Recipe
In this homemade pasta series, we’ve already covered a more familiar type – semolina.

Now let’s move on to something that’s a little more exotic but still easy to make: malfatti pasta.

Make Your Own Homemade Malfatti Pasta |

In Italian, “malfatti” means malformed or irregularly shaped.

This might sound like a bad thing, but believe me, it’s the key to this dish!

Do you want an easy to make pasta recipe that requires almost no culinary skills to bring to perfection? If so, this recipe is definitely for you. Malfatti is so simple to make that even a cooking novice will have no trouble in making a delectable and authentic Italian meal. Read more and get the recipe now!

This recipe comes from the personal collection of my Italian friend in Argentina, where I lived for many years. Believe it or not, Argentina is almost as much of a melting pot as the US, with everything from Amish settlements to a burgeoning Italian community, and everyone in between.

The Best Malfatti Pasta Recipe |

These have a wonderful texture and they are hearty, because the pasta pieces are large and almost dumpling-like. They are also great to make at home because they are easy to form, you don’t need a pasta machine, and you do not have to make a lot of them to use up all of the dough.

The spinach provides a boost of added flavor, vitamins, and color.

I would recommend serving these with a tomato sauce, a fresh tomato cream sauce, or a hearty meat sauce.

Bonus Tip: Always remember to put a little bit of sugar in your tomato sauces. It makes the sauce sweeter, and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes.

The Recipe

The Best Malfatti Pasta Recipe |
Malfatti Pasta
Votes: 4
Rating: 3.5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
6 Servings
6 Servings
The Best Malfatti Pasta Recipe |
Malfatti Pasta
Votes: 4
Rating: 3.5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
6 Servings
6 Servings
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach (about 10.5 oz/300 g)
  • 18 oz fresh ricotta cheese (500 g)
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten, preferably organic and free range
  • 5 oz grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Reggianito cheese (150 g)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or to taste)
  • 3 oz “00” flour (80 g)
Servings: Servings
  1. Blanch the spinach in boiling water with a little salt, drain well, and chop finely.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped spinach, ricotta, lightly beaten eggs, grated cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Add the flour tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring it in completely between additions, until the dough takes on a nice firm consistency.
  4. To form the malfatti, lightly flour your hands, and press the dough into irregularly shaped balls.
  5. Prepare a large pot of boiling salted water, and carefully place the pasta into the pot with a large spoon. When they rise to the surface, they are done.
  6. Turn off the heat, leaving them in the pot a few minutes longer, and then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
  7. Arrange in a dish, and serve topped with one of your favorite sauces.


Cooking by the Numbers…

The ingredients required to make Malfatti pasta |

Step One  Blanch the Spinach

Bring a pot of water and a dash of salt to boil, and quickly blanch the spinach.

A pair of hands blanching spinach
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Remove the spinach (a strainer or colander works well for this), drain well, and chop up into small pieces.

Step Two – Mix It Up

Lightly beat the eggs and add them to a bowl along with the nutmeg, pepper, salt, chopped spinach, ricotta, and grated cheese.

Incorporate the ingredients into the Malfatti pasta dough |

Thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients.

Step Three – Make It Sticky

Slowly incorporate the flour, making sure that you stir in each tablespoon in one at a time until the dough firms up.

Adding the flour to the Malfatti pasta dough recipe

Step Four – Form the Pasta

Coat your hands have a light dusting of flour, and form the dough into rough balls. These don’t have to be perfect – in fact, irregular shapes are prefered.

Forming the Malfatti pasta dough balls

This can also be done with a spoon. Scoop out the dough like you would if you were making cookies, using an ice cream scoop if you like for some consistency, and shape them in the palm of your hand.

Step Five – Boil the Dough

Add water and salt to a medium-sized stock pot or a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil the Malfatti pasta dough until it "pops" up.

Using a large spoon, place the pasta into the pot, being careful not to splash yourself or burn your hands. When the malfatti pop to the surface, they are done.

Step Six – Remove the Cooked Malfatti

Remove from heat and allow the pasta to sit in the pot of water& for a few more minutes. Remove the malfatti from the pot with a slotted spoon or a strainer.

Step Seven – The Presentation

Place the finished pasta in a dish and add your favorite sauces and toppings.

Make your own homemade malfatti pasta noodles at home with this super easy recipe:

This is one of the simplest ways to make an Italian noodle, but they can be dressed up any way that you want. Some of my favorite toppings include:

Have your ever made malfatti? If so, what’s your favorite topping? Tell us in the comments below!

Photos by Kendall Vanderslice unless otherwise noted, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu, Mike Quinn, and Kendall Vanderslice.

About Lori Jo Hendrix

Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.

18 thoughts on “Getting Started With Homemade Pasta: Malfatti”

  1. I love this pasta series you are doing! This one looks so easy and so delicious. The texture looks amazing and it’s the perfect combo of cheesy with veggies for me, I can’t wait to try it.

    • Hi Lynk,

      Thank you! I am glad you are enjoying it. No such things as too much pasta is there?

      The texture is great and I love the hearty bites.

      Let us know when you try it.


  2. Another great recipe and one that doesn’t need a machine. I am looking forward to the sauce recipes as I that makes all the difference with a good pasta dish.

    Is there anything you can use instead of ricotta cheese such as tofu instead? I have a lactose intolerance and can only have small amounts of cheese, and usually try and substitute if with other ingredients.

    • Hi Bella,

      That is actually how I got into sauces for pasta, I was not that impressed with the ones I ate at Argentine restaurants.

      Here are some lactose free substitutes:

      -Firm silken tofu (add a little olive oil and salt)
      -Soybean curd

      Happy cooking!

  3. While this doesn’t look particularly attractive, I am in no doubt that it would taste delicious! The lemon basil pesto sauce also sounds utterly divine.

    • Hi ukfoodiegirl,

      Hahahah, well, I guess the sauce can bring attractiveness to the dish and a beautiful plate.

      Thank you, and divine it is!

  4. This is such a good recipe, and also, thanks for sharing some facts about it, it’s always interesting to get to know a little bit more about different cultures.
    I hadn’t seen this recipe before reading this post, and I don’t really know why, it looks truly amazing. Even if I’m not the biggest fan of eggs in general, this looks really good, and it has some really eye catching ingredients for me.
    I really need to try this one.

    • Hi anorexorcist,

      Thank you!

      I am not en egg fan either but I still love this dish.

      Let us know how you like it. 🙂

  5. Oh gosh, this looks so good I have half a mind to get up right now and start to make it. I don’t agree with Ukfoodiegirl that it doesn’t look particularly attractive. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference. It looks so appetizing to me. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Hi NormaD,

      Hahahaha, I hope you make it soon.

      I like the chunky aspect to the appearance and the texture the shape provides. It is just biting into juicy pieces of pasta and I love that taste and feeling. A different experience than say, spaghetti.


  6. I have never heard of malfatti before. It is great to still see people make their own pasta noodles at home. I always thought it would be too hard, especially since I don’t have a pasta machine. I am looking forward to that broccoli garlic butter sauce.

    • Hi Jasmine2015,

      I am sure a lot of people never even try because they think it is too difficult but it is not and they are even fun to make. I love the smell of any type of dough and playing around with it.


  7. Well I must admit that I have never even heard of malfatti before, but I have to say that I am intrigued now. I am always willing and excited to try new things in the kitchen, and a good pasta dish is always a good place to start for me. Easy enough and tasty enough, although homemade might be a little rougher, but I am glad that I have a little guide to follow. For that, I say thank you for sharing.

    • Hi rz3300,

      I tell you what, make a big batch and freeze some and that will most than make up fort he extra effort and you my discover that is is fun to make, especially if you involve a buddy and a bottle of wine. 😉


  8. Do these have a similar texture and consistency to dumplings? That’s what they remind me of in a way. I really like this post. While I can’t see myself putting in the time to make other homemade noodles and stuff very often, I can certainly see myself giving this a whirl.

    It’s also something new to try that we haven’t had before. I’m always looking for new dishes to add to the menu, so this is great. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Zyni,

      Yes, I think so. Exactly, they don’t have to be perfectly shaped, no machine, nada. This is definitely something you can make at home with much less effort than you think.

      Welcome! And I am happy to see you trying new things. So many people get stuck eating the same combo of things week after week.


  9. Well, I actually thought that I had messed up the pasta when it ended up like that. Seems like that’s a good consistency and it also looks delicious,the spinach must give it the final touch, it must be great. I would also add some garlic cloves to enhance the flavor and make it tastier, that’s just my opinion. Thank you for sharing this!


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