Capunets, a traditional dish of the straMangiada
Capunets — little spinach dumplings, similar to gnocchi — make up part of the culinary walk known as the straMangiada in Valposchiavo. For over a decade, this event has taken participants from the village of Le Prese to Poschiavo. Typically held in early July, straMangiada features about 10 stops for food and drink along the approximately 7-km route. Walking the along this picturesque valley last year, I tasted local wines, alpine cheese, dried meats, grilled sausages and more.
At one of the last stops along the route, I feasted on a cheesy plate of Capunets, served up by a local football (soccer) team. It made sense that organizers served this hearty dish near the end of the route on a hot summer day. Layered with cheese, these savory little dumplings with spinach also contain flour, eggs and bread crumbs.
Capunets with Roasted Tomatoes
Inspired by several recipes for Capunets via Swissmilk, RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, Valposchiavo Turismo and from the cookbook, Fornelli accesi in Valposchiavo.
– vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
– olive oil
– About 1 lb. (500 grams) fresh spinach
– 2-3 tablespoons butter
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup bread crumbs
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
– 2 eggs
– 1-2 cups grated cheese (e.g., Gruyere, Sbrinz or Etivaz, etc.)
– salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oven to 150° C / 300° F. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for about 60 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, blanch the spinach in boiling salted water, just until wilted. Then, immediately place the spinach in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain and gently squeeze to remove the excess water. Separately, cook the onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Next, puree the spinach, onion-garlic mixture and fresh basil with an upright or immersion blender. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the eggs and spinach mixture. Stir everything together vigorously until well-combined and the batter starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the batter for about 30 minutes.
4. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Take the batter out of the refrigerator. Place a large spoonful of batter on a cutting board. Scrape small pieces of the batter directly into the boiling water. When they float to the top, they’re done. Use a slotted spoon to remove the capunets and place them in a colander to drain. Separately, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter into a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the drained capunets to the pan, stirring occasionally. Repeat this process until all the batter has been cooked in the boiling water, drained and added to the large frying pan.
5. Add the grated cheese to the capunets in the frying pan and stir until it’s melted and well-combined. Serve capunets immediately with the roasted tomatoes.