Canederli agli spinaci

canederli agli spinaci

As I promised on my return from my summer holidays in the Dolomites here I am blogging a typical dish from that area ( which I finally got round to making) : the legendary canederli. What are they? I hear you ask…. Well, the best way to describe them is they are big bread dumplings which are cooked in boiling salted water. A bit like gnocchi. They were originally a peasant dish. I have made the vegetarian version (with spinach and cheese) but the traditional ones contain speck which is a smoked ham from those mountains. I tried both versions when I was in Italy, as well as those made with beetroot. All delicious,  and a great way to use stale bread. They are not difficult to prepare and are very tasty (as well as VERY filling). Recipes on the internet vary but here’s what I did. It worked first time.

INGREDIENTS (makes approx. 8)

350 gr. stale bread, crust off cut in small cubes

2 eggs

1/2 a glass of warm milk

250 gr spinach, steamed

1 small onion, finely chopped

3-4 spring onions, sliced (optional)

a handful of grated parmesan

100 gr. strong cheese, cubed (I used French Comte which worked very well indeed. But you can use Fontina or gruyere)

salt and pepper

grated nutmeg

plain flour


fresh sage


grated parmesan


2 hours before you want to make the canederli put the bread in a big bowl and add the warm milk and the eggs. Combine well and let it rest, stirring from time to time. The bread will become nice and soft.

Shallow fry the chopped onion together with your spring onion until soft and translucent. Keep on one side. Steam the spinach and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of it then chop it.

When you are ready to make the canederli combine the spinach, cubed cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg, onion and grated parmesan with the bread mixture. You should achieve a mixture which is quite firm. It mustn’t be too sloppy or it will disintegrate. With your wet hands form some biggish balls (7-8 cm. in diameter)  then roll them in plain flour until completely covered.

In the meantime bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. When the water is boiling gently drop the canederli in the pan one by one. They will sink to the bottom. Let them cook for approx. 15 minutes. In the meantime melt some butter with some fresh sage. Spoon the canederli out when they are ready (they will rise to the top of the pan), drain them well and dress them with your butter and sage mixture. Sprinkle with lots of grated parmesan. Enjoy!

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