Maultaschen – Swabian Ravioli filled with Spinach, Beef and Parsley
by eat in my kitchen
If it weren’t for the preparation of the pastry I could eat this Swabian treat every week, I love it! Unfortunately, I don’t have a pasta machine and, as Maultaschen are the southern German variation of large open ravioli, I have to roll out lots of dough by hand, as thinly as possible. This takes a while (about 45 minutes to be precise) but this shouldn’t put you off as the work is absolutely worth it! And if you’re the lucky owner of a pasta machine it’s even easier.
Maultaschen are a culinary classic from Swabia, they are the region’s most famous speciality, apart from spaetzle maybe. They are popular all over Germany and the European Union recognized the dish as part of the culinary heritage of the province of Badem-Württemberg. So officially, a Maultasche is only a Maultasche when it’s produced in Swabia. I can’t claim that, mine are made in Berlin but at least I had a great master to learn from, my Swabian step father Uli. We often eat them for lunch in my mother’s kitchen either in a bowl of steaming broth or fried in butter with onions, the two typical ways to serve them. Due to their size, Maultaschen have more filling to enjoy than the Italian version. I make mine with lots of spinach and parsley, and although there’s minced meat, bacon and sausage mixed in as well, they taste very light and fresh. Whenever I roll out the dough for this southern treat I make lots of it, lined along our wooden dining table (which is very long, luckily). They just taste too good!
Traditionally, you serve Maultaschen in broth on the first day and fry the leftovers in butter with eggs the second day, but this is up to you. I felt like a warming broth and some golden sautéed onions, so I started with that. I always keep a few of them in the freezer as well. This is such a luxurious treat, on one of those cold nights when there isn’t much time left to cook, I just have to pull out my Swabian ravioli and throw them in the pan.
This dish has a long history, with a variation of stories about its origin. One says that the Cistercian monks of the Maulbronn Monastery invented Maultaschen as a sneaky way to eat meat during Lent. The meat in this dish is hidden under the pasta dough so it cannot be seen by God, this also led to the dish’s nickname Herrgottsbescheißerle, meaning God cheater in German.
For 18 large Maultaschen you need
strong broth (chicken, beef or vegetable), seasoned, to serve the Maultaschen in
onions, cut in half, sliced thinly, sautéed in butter until golden and soft, for the topping
chives, snipped, for the topping
For the pasta dough
plain flour 300g / 10.5 ounces
organic eggs 3
salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
Mix the ingredients with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Continue kneading with your hands for 2 minutes or until smooth. Form a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 1 1/2 hours.
For the filling
fresh spinach leaves, rinsed, 300g / 10.5 ounces
parsley, finely chopped, 50g / 2 ounces
bacon, cut into small cubes, 50g / 2 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
minced meat (beef or mixed) 250g / 9 ounces
coarse sausages, skin removed, 150g / 5.5 ounces
white bun 1
sour cream 2 heaped tablespoons
salt 1 teaspoon
freshly grated nutmeg
Blanche the spinach in salted water for 1 1/2 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Let it cool for a few minutes, squeeze the water out with your hands and chop it with a knife or in a food processor.
Soak the bun in warm water for 15 minutes, squeeze it well and tear into pieces.
In a pan, fry the bacon in a little olive oil for a few minutes on medium heat until golden brown and crisp. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes or until soft.
In a large bowl, mix the spinach, bacon, onion, parsley, minced meat, sausage filling, sour cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and the bun with an electric mixer or your hands until well combined. Cover the bowl and keep it in the fridge while you roll out the pasta dough.
On a large surface, roll out the dough between cling film. It should be thin and about 19 x 90cm / 7.5 x 35.5″. If it’s wider than 19cm / 7.5″, roll it up a little from the sides and continue rolling until it’s the right size.
In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil.
Take the top layer of cling film off the dough and cover it with parchment paper. Gently turn it around and pull off the other layer of cling film. Spread the filling evenly on top of the dough, leaving a small rim around it. Fold the dough up from the long side until it’s slightly over the middle (with the parchment paper) and pull off the parchment paper. Fold up the other side, this time almost to the end of the roll, close it and push the fold together gently. Turn the roll over, so that the fold is on the bottom. With a sharp knife, gently cut the pasta wrap into 18 pieces, don’t close them, they stay open.
Slip the Maultaschen into the boiling water (in batches of about 6 depending on the size of the pot), close with a lid and take the pot off the heat immediately. After 12 minutes they are done. Take them out with a slotted ladle and put them on a grid for a few minutes.
Serve them in a bowl with a little hot broth, garnished with the sautéed onions and some chives.