"This dish is more commonly known by its Germanic name, knödel di spinaci, rather than by its Italian counterpart, canederli di spinaci. Menus in Italy often use both versions," says Zoccali. "There is very little doubt that this dish is of strong German/Austrian origin. But over the course of history, it has become a very traditional dish of the Alto Adige, Trentino and other northern Italian regions. While not what we normally expect when eating pasta, canederli are particularly great to eat in the middle of winter. I have eaten them in a little cabin in the middle of snow-covered mountains in the Alto Adige with my wife, son and sommelier, and I can't imagine a more fulfilling experience."
- 120 gm salted butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, finely diced
- To taste: fine sea salt
- To taste: freshly ground white pepper
- 3 free-range or organic eggs
- To taste: freshly grated nutmeg
- 500 gm day-old bread, cut roughly into 1cm square pieces
- 100 gm (1 cup) grated Gruyère
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 300 gm baby spinach, boiled or steamed, finely chopped and well drained
- 3 tbsp milk
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1Put two-thirds of the butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook the onion until soft and translucent in colour. Season with the sea salt and white pepper and set aside to cool. Combine the eggs, nutmeg, bread, Gruyère, flour, cooled sautéed onion, spinach and milk to form a soft dough. Use a little more milk if required. Using wet hands, form the mixture into small dumplings (the size of large gnocchi). Cook in abundant salted boiling water for about 8-12 minutes. Drain and place on a hot or warm serving dish. Cover with the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste. Heat the remaining butter in a small saucepan over high heat and cook until foaming and nut brown. Drizzle over the top of the cheese and dumplings and serve immediately.
Note This recipe is from Pasta Artigiana by Nino Zoccali, published by Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes. This recipe is from the August 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.