What? What’s Spinatknödel? We’ll get to it, just wait.
This is a recipe based on our trip to Chicago late last year. One of the things we like to do when we travel is to walk around the downtown areas, and, we make it a point to find self-guided walking tours. These can cover history, architecture, food, parks, nearly anything; we just love waking around seeing some of the sights. Well, we’d found some on Frommer’s that we printed out and took with us. And, one tour happened to suggest stopping in the Berghoff Restaurant partway through. We did and loved it. By now, you can guess that one of us had the Spinatknödel for lunch.
Basically, Spinatknödel is a spinach dumpling, and it turns out that they’re quite easy to make. Now, we don’t claim that this is the recipe that’s used at the restaurant; instead, it’s a combination of a couple of recipes we found on the Internet. Mainly one at Tasty Trix and another at Hotel Patriarch.
Technically, we make Grünkohlknödel, since we used kale instead of spinach. We figured we had kale, so, why not? Feel free to substitute another type of green, if you wish. For the milk/bread ratio: you want enough milk so that all the bread is moistened, but not so much that milk sits unabsorbed on the bottom of the bowl. Finally, we baked our Grünkohlknödel, but these are simmered like dumplings, too. Just place them in simmering water for 3-5 minutes. Either way, serve them with your favorite sauce.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Soak bread. Tear up the bread, reserving the crusts for another use (we ground our crusts into breadcrumbs, but they’d also work for croutons), and place the pieces in a medium bowl. Add the milk, stir several times, and let soak while you work. If you wish, stir the bread around every once in a while to make sure that all the bread is moistened by the milk.
Cook spinach. We steamed/boiled our spinach substitute, kale. Simple place about an inch of water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, add the spinach and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
Drain and rinse. Drain the spinach in a colander and rinse with cold running water to stop the cooking. Once cool, squeeze out the excess liquid. The spinach, or spinach substitute, should be mostly dry. Once squeezed dry, chop finely.
Fry onions and garlic. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. We simply reused the saucepan in which we’d cooked the kale. Once melted, add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 7 minutes.
Mix everything. Add the chopped spinach to the bread, along with the onion-garlic mixture. Add the egg, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, then stir to combine everything.
Add breadcrumbs. If needed, add enough breadcrumbs so that the mixture holds together and is stiff enough to be shaped easily.
Shape. Scoop out some of the mixture and form into a ball about and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can make them larger or smaller as you see fit. As you work, place the spinatknödel on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment, leaving a couple of inches of space between each.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the outside is golden and slightly crispy. You don’t want them very crispy; just enough so you know that they’ve been baked all the way through.
Serve. We served ours with a simple lemon caper sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, but you can use a cheese sauce, or a tomato sauce, or even just a drizzle of melted butter. It’s all up to you.
Now, these were pretty close to the spinatknödel served at the Berghoff Restaurant. Perhaps their version was better, but these are definitely a tasty and new way to eat your spinach. We liked the way they turned out when baked in the oven, and recommend it as an easy way to whip up a batch while you’re busy making a sauce. Overall, four stars.