forkEdition #16 / A LUNCH AT HIGH ALTITUDE

forkEdition #16 / A LUNCH AT HIGH ALTITUDE

[We have a wander around Italy on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home, if you fancy. That’s right, because we’re also going to give you the recipe!]

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I’m writing on a Sunday in January. It’s cold outside, as usual: it’s the middle of winter for us! Over the Christmas holidays we have feasted on countless delicious dishes, and perhaps today we should be observing a period of fasting...

But it is chilly outside, and an empty stomach certainly does not warm you up. So, let’s take inspiration from cold locations and one traditional mountain dish in particular, as we return to Cortina, this time to enjoy a warming serving of Canederli dumplings.

The Italian version of the German Knödel, canederli are large bread dumplings common throughout central Europe. In Italy, you can find them north-east of the Alps.

It is a humble dish – designed to use up dried-out bread – that can come in a thousand different variations: with bacon, mushrooms, spinach or cheese, or even as a dessert with berries or prunes... 

I’m crazy for the “verdi” (green) ones, with spinach: despite the high butter content, I tell myself that at least they are more affordable... and they do contain vegetables!

Easy to make and a great comfort food, they are sure to warm us up on this lazy winter Sunday. So, let’s get to work, shall we?

CANEDERLI VERDI

[preparation time: 30 minutes + 40 minutes resting time]

Ingredients [serves 4]

  • 200 g cooked spinach (equal to 400 g fresh). Or you can use frozen spinach, which is super convenient!
  • 150 g stale bread (preferably with just a thin crust. Otherwise, you can remove the crust)
  • 60 g onion
  • 50 g milk
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 20 g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg (to taste)

 For the seasoning

  • 70 g butter
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese
  • Chives
  • Nutmeg (to taste)

Method

We begin with the spinach, which needs to be boiled for a few minutes in boiling water.

In a frying pan, we then melt the butter and brown the finely chopped onion and the garlic (whole). Squeeze the spinach well to remove excess water then add it to the pan and season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Let everything combine for 5-6 minutes. Remove the garlic and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. 

[“Healthy” tip: you can replace the butter with extra virgin olive oil for frying] 

Once it has cooled, blend the spinach in a blender together with the eggs (whites and yolks).

Now on to the dumplings! Slice the bread into small cubes and place them in a bowl. Add the spinach mixture together with milk, Parmesan cheese, flour and salt. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until you obtain an even mixture. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Take a spoonful of the mixture, press it between your slightly wet hands and form a ball the size of a fairly large tangerine.

Continue making balls until you have used all the mixture. As you form each dumpling, place them on a cutting board dusted with flour or on a sheet of baking paper. Let them rest for just over half an hour: this will ensure they hold together while they cook, without falling apart.

In a high-sided pot, boil plenty of salted water and gently place your Canederli verdi in the water. Cover with a lid, leaving a small vent (I use a wooden ladle to prop the lid slightly up). Lower the heat and let the dumplings cook for about 16 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bain-marie (so you don’t risk it burning). The original recipe would have you melt it in a pan until slightly brown (browned butter), but I prefer not to take any chances! 

A handy tip: dumplings should not be drained like pasta, but rather taken out one by one using a slotted spoon. Place them directly on each plate. 

Pour over the melted butter, a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, another grating of nutmeg and the chives, finely chopped. And voila, it’s just as though we are in Cortina!

Buon appetito! 💗


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