With the weather thinking it’s already October, my kitchen isn’t far behind. Autumn comfort food from Tyrol is the only remedy I can think of at the moment. My favorite example: these spinach dumplings.
They’re pretty easy to make, although the require some time. They contain enough spinach to make you forget about the bread and the butter. And they taste positively decadent, without needing any high-price ingredients. And they make a great dish for vegetarian guests (not for vegans, though. Sorry about that). – Feel free to improvise when it comes to the cheeses, depending on which corner of the planet you’re living in.
In Southern Germany, Austria and parts of Northern Italy, you can already buy cubed dry white bread “for dumplings”. Nobody has ever heard of that where I live, but apart from some extra handiwork, that really isn’t an obstacle on the way to this dish.
Spinach Dumplings (makes about 12 dumplings – feeds 4)
- 150g (4 rolls) dried white bread
- 220g frozen spinach leaves (leaves, not the chopped kind)
- 400-500ml milk (1,5%)
- 35g Emmental cheese
- 30g Parmesan cheese
- 2 medium sized eggs
- 75g breadcrumbs
- salt & pepper
- a pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp. butter
- The first thing you need on hand is dried white bread. It’s the base of this recipe and you need a lot of it. To always have some of it around, I buy a package of cheap white rolls at the supermarket now and then (5 rolls =45cts) and set them on a dry shelf (away from kitchen humidity!) with enough air circulation (important to prevent mildew) , so that they dry out over the course of the following weeks.
- For this recipe, you need at least 4 of such dried rolls.
- With a bread knife, cut the dried bread first into slices, then into stripes and then into cubes. This takes a while and some force. If you keep pushing down the blade for better effort (I always keep doing that), remember to give your hands some soothing cream massage after finishing this recipe, otherwise you may end up with a pretty sore palm.
- The bread cubes should be small, not much above 1cm on all length. Assemble them in a big bowl and cover with the milk. Press down the bread cubes that stick out. Add more milk if that doesn’t help.
- Now you have to wait – which can easily take up to 45 minutes – until the bread is completely soaked with the milk. There mustn’t be any hard spots when you check it with your fingers, everything needs to be soft.
- While you wait for the milk to do its work, defrost the spinach on low heat, that sautés it a little on the side already.
- When the spinach is defrosted, press out all excess water (be careful not to burn your finger) and cut it roughly (not into too small bits). This may take up to 20 minutes.
- Check whether the bread has softened by now. If it has, squeeze out the excess milk, if there is any.
- To the bread, add the spinach, eggs, cheeses, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix until the ingredients are spread evenly among each other.
- Set the mixture aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set up a large pot of lightly salted water and wash your hands.
- After the fifteen minutes have passed, form the dumplings. Just get a tbsp. of mixture and roll it into a ball between your palms. The dumplings should have the size of ping-pong balls; perhaps a little bigger.
- You need the water on hand to be simmering, not boiling. For that purpose, I usually let it boil up, then reduce the heat keep it simmering with the lid on.
- If you’re down forming the dumplings, they’re ready to take a dive:
- With a spoon, gently slide the prepared dumplings into the simmering water.
- They’ll need about 10-15 minutes until they swim up to the surface, which means that they’re done.
- Fish the dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon, draining them well.
- In a large pan, heat the butter (you can add another tbsp. or two if your hips don’t protest) and lightly brown the dumplings on all sides for 2-3 minutes.
- Arrange the dumplings on a plate and drizzle the remaining butter over them.
- Enjoy! (you can serve them next to some meat in a creamy sauce, with a salad or as an entrée on their own)