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Stinging Nettle and Parmesan Malfatti

IngredientsVegetables, Cheese
Menu PartSide Dish
stinging nettles ball

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Sides that can double as starters are an operational bonus for a restaurant. Customers can order them as an accompaniment or an appetizer, or mix and match sides and starters to make a meal of small plates. At Hinterland, Chef Van Rite likes to pair local Wisconsin ingredients, such as the stinging nettles and cheese used in these malfatti.


2 to 3 tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 cup diced white onion
5 to 6 cups (about 7 to 8 oz.) nettles (tips only) or spinach leaves
4 eggs
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup (4 oz.)  grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
2 tbsp. grated lemon rind, grated
Olive oil


  1. In small skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Cook onion 3 to 4 minutes or until tender; set aside.
  2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Plunge nettles into water; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Drain and plunge into bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. Place in clean tea towel; squeeze and wring out as much liquid as possible. Coarsely chop.
  3. In large bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Add onion, nettles, parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lemon rind. Mix well. Shape into 24 (1½-inch) balls. Place on baking sheet. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
  4. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add half the malfatti at a time; simmer gently 1 to 2 minutes or until they float to surface. With slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining malfatti.
  5. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon remaining butter over medium heat. Sauté half the malfatti until browned, turning once. Remove and keep warm. Sauté remaining malfatti, adding remaining butter if necessary.
  6. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

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