When is a Knodel Not a Knodel?

October 30, 2013 / Food & Wine

When dumplings migrate from Germany into Italy they become canederli! Canederli are only found in the Alto Adige region of Fruili and the high Veneto. Visitors to Trentino and Bolzano will enjoy these tasty dumplings in most restaurants.


Canederli are the tradition of “cucina povera”, cuisine of the poor, as they make use of simple ingredients, often leftovers. Made of stale bread moistened with milk, or potatoes, and eggs with a small amount of flour to bind, add some speck (smoked prosciutto), cheese or spinach. Served as a first course or part of a main entrée; boiled or fried, they can be served in a brodo (broth) or dry with some melted butter and grated cheese.


When I find celeriac (celery root) in the October markets I know it is time to make my own version of this comfort food with a rib roast!

½ kilo of whole celery root
½ kilo potatoes
6 tablespoons butter (or use olive oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon marjoram, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste.
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup fine flour
¼ lb (100 gram) speck or bacon, chopped

Bring celery root to boil in large saucepan of cold water to cover; lower heat to simmer 20 minutes; drop in potatoes. Simmer until cooked: easily pierced with fork. Drain, cool and peel. Press through a food mill into a large mixing bowl, and blend together. (Can use food processor for celeriac, but not potatoes!) Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook onion until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. When the celery root and potatoes are mashed and mixed, stir in onion, marjoram, parsley, salt, and pepper; blend in eggs and speck. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour on top, and work it in, forming a sticky dough. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup flour on a baking sheet. Form the dough into twelve patties, about 1 1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Dredge them in the flour, coating both sides. To fry the canederli: Melt the remaining butter in big skillet, medium-high heat. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels; bake in oven 10 minutes until crisp.


Colleen Simpson

by Colleen Simpson

Colleen followed a long-held dream and made a home in Piegaro, which is a pristine medieval glass-making village south of Lago Trasimeno in Umbria. She is the innkeeper at www.anticavetreria.net.

7 Responses to “When is a Knodel Not a Knodel?”

  1. Rosemary

    These remind me of my Mother’s “fraggias” (who knows how it’s spelled!!) made with bread crumbs, grated cheese, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley, (or just Italian flavored bread crumbs) and eggs – fried and rolled like a crepe, (looking similar to this last photo) cooked in tomato sauce as you would meatballs. Never thought of boiling them “in brodo” or adding vegetables – but I might have to try it!

  2. That is a recipe that I will definitely try. Knodel have infinite possibilities as one can find in Austria or Germany. So now I can add the Italian version-obviously with a strong Alpine influence.

  3. Giuseppe Clemente

    signora Colleen,
    thanks from bringing the Knödel on the web. I’m from Bolzano/Bozen, was raised with Knödel and all his different forms. But I need to correct, or disagree in the fact of this being a german dish. Well it’s not, it has nothing to do with Germany, originally born in the area from Bohemia, Austria and Slovenia. Trough the Austro-Hungarian Empire, mainly with the troops moving following the wars, it became widespread in the areas under the influence of Austria-Hungary and Bavaria. the province of Trento was part of Austria until 1918, so wide spread Knödel = Canederli.
    Knödel with goulash equals a flight on the magic carpet ….


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