When people imagine German food, they often think about only one thing. Meat. Yes, Germany is the home of gigantic schnitzels and plate-sized pork knuckles, but it is also the land of many different dumplings (knödel). True, the purpose of most of these dumplings is to soak up the sauce that comes with the meat, however, sometimes they are served as a vegetarian meal in their own right.
Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings, full of delicious greens, creamy ricotta and salty Parmesan cheese are definitely an import from our Italian neighbours to the south. Claimed by the city of Florence as ‘Gnocchi Verdi’, this tasty vegetarian meal has become incredibly popular in Germany and is certain to be found on any good vegetarian menu.
It’s easy to see why, because these pillowy soft little morsels are so satisfying. Served with a simple but utterly decadent brown butter sauce and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese, this is an excellent recipe to have handy next time a vegetarian guest comes to dinner.
If it’s your first time making this style of dumplings you may have to experiment a little to get the consistency just right. Dumpling dough is a bit of a Goldilocks affair, needing to be not too wet or too dry. I’ve given instructions in the recipe to help you find your way.
Do you have a favourite German meal? What do you think of German dumplings? Let me know in the comments below. Take care out there and happy cooking. xJ
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings
Bright green, pillowy soft Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings or Gnocchi Verdi are a fabulous dish to serve as a vegetarian main.
- 700g spinach leaves
- 250ml milk
- 250g stale white bread, finely diced
- 250g unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 3 medium eggs
- 100g Parmesan, finely grated
- 100g ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- freshly ground nutmeg
- 150g breadcrumbs (if necessary)
- small bunch fresh basil
- freshly grated Parmesan
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash the spinach well in cold water to remove any dirt and grit. Shake dry, then fill the sink with cold water. Blanch the spinach in batches by cooking briefly in the boiling water, then refreshing in the cold water in the sink. This is to keep the spinach a beautiful bright green. Drain through a sieve, then squeeze dry with a kitchen towel.
- Chop the spinach roughly, then puree in the food processor with the blade attachment fitted. It is best to do this a little at a time, dropping the spinach through the feed tube so that the blade can work properly.
- Bring the milk to the boil and place the bread in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the milk, stir to combine, then cover and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small pan and gently cook the onion until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- When the bread has softened, uncover and add the spinach, eggs, Parmesan and ricotta to the bowl. Season very well with the salt (you may need more to taste), pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine and make a thick dough. If the dough seems very wet, add up to 150g of breadcrumbs. The dough needs to be firm enough to easily roll into balls (see pictures and note).
- With slightly wet hands roll the mixture into dumplings slightly larger than golf balls and place on a plate. When the dumplings have all been rolled, bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a gentle simmer and lower the dumplings in, one by one. Poach very gently for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, cooking until a light, nut brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the dumplings are cooked, lift out of the water with a slotted spoon to serving bowls. Pour our the brown butter sauce, garnish with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
If this is your first time making this style of dumplings and you’Re not sure about the consistency, I’d recommend making a ‘test dumpling’ first. Roll one dumpling and place it in barely simmering water. If stays in shape, then you are good to go. If it dissolves or falls apart, you’ll need some more breadcrumbs in the mixture. If the mixture is too dry, add a spoonful or more ricotta.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1047Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 40gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 293mgSodium: 1872mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 8gSugar: 8gProtein: 34g
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I know if my dumplings have the right consistency?
If this is your first time making this style of dumplings and you’Re not sure about the consistency, I’d recommend making a ‘test dumpling’ first. Roll one dumpling and place it in barely simmering water. If stays in shape, then you are good to go. If it dissolves or falls apart, you’ll need some more breadcrumbs in the mixture. If the mixture is too dry, add a spoonful or more ricotta. You’ll get the hang of it!
Do I have to serve my Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with a butter sauce? I’m watching my weight!
I know, I know, but butter is so delicious! You can, of course, serve these dumplings with any sauce that you would serve with gnocchi or pasta generally. A fresh tomato and basil sauce would be nice.
Can I make Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings in advance?
Yes, you can. Roll the dumplings then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to a day. I have never tried freezing them, but I will update this post if I do!
Can I use frozen spinach to make these dumplings?
Yes. You need around 300g of frozen spinach, it needs to be defrosted and very well-drained of all liquid.