Canederli del Trentino is a fluffy dumpling specialty from the north of Italy. In the “valley of the sun”, the Val di Sole, people also love the little dumplings with a delicious cheese filling. The perfect feel-good dish when it starts to get colder outside again.
Dumplings as ransoms
Dishes with a history are not uncommon in Italy. However, hardly any is as hair-raising as that of the Trentino canederli: We are at the end of the 15th century and war is raging on Italian soil. In order to encourage the landlord of a Trentino inn to cook, some mercenaries in a hurry took his wife and daughter hostage. Full of fear, the innkeeper set to work, but in the pantry, he only had onions, eggs, stale bread, milk, flour and a little bacon. Without further ado, the innkeeper transformed the ingredients into small dumplings. The mercenaries were more than satisfied. They released the women and paid the innkeeper for the good canederli.
The potato revolution
A good half-century later, sailors brought the first potatoes from South America to Europe. While the basic ingredient of Italian gnocchi, canederli or strangolapreti had previously been stale bread and flour, this now changed. The potato conquered part of the native gnocchi and dumpling cuisine. In the meantime, the simple traditional peasant dishes, prepared using leftovers, had made it as far as the courts of the Estes of Ferrara or the table of the Pope. Then, as now, gnocchi were served in broth or with sage butter. But there were also sweet versions with cinnamon, nutmeg or sugared poppy seeds.
- 300 g bread, or rolls white and old
- 200 ml milk
- 1 onion
- 60 g butter
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 3 eggs
- 150 g flour, buckwheat
- 150 g Casolet, or other cheese ripened for a short time
- 80 g bacon, optional
- some leaves sage
- 1 hand Grana cheese, or Parmesan grated
- Heat the milk. In a bowl, soak the bread in the milk. Finely chop the onions and fry them in a pan in melted butter until translucent. Chop the parsley. Add the parsley, onions and eggs to the bread mixture. Sprinkle buckwheat flour on top and mix well. Season the dough with salt and grated nutmeg.
- Cut the cheese into approx. 1-2 cm small cubes. Flatten about 80 g of dough on your moistened palm. Place a piece of cheese in the centre of the dough and form a dumpling around the cheese with your hand. Roll round again in the palm of your hand. Repeat the process until all the dough is used.
- Cook the canederli in lightly simmering salted water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into strips and fry in a little butter until crispy. Put aside. Now gently fry the sage leaves in butter. Toss the drained canederli in the sage butter and, if desired, serve with strips of bacon and plenty of grated Grana cheese.
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