If you have ever visited Italy and eaten pasta – or even visited the pasta aisle at your local grocery store – you know there are thousands of different Italian pasta shapes. There are also many different types of little dough dumplings that fall into the pasta category, such as gnocchi, pisarei, and these strangolapreti alla trentina.
Strangolapreti alla trentina are made of a thick, rich, hearty dough that Italian chefs would traditionally make to fill up the throats and bellies of the priests who would visit their restaurants and eat for free. Nowadays, we can all enjoy filling our bellies with a bit of strangolapreti.
Like ravioli and other pasta, strangolapreti is made differently in various regions of Italy, and sometimes goes by different names. Italians are wonderful at retaining their local traditions, which make for a diverse culture and authentic culinary experiences.
This version of strangolapreti hails from the region of Trentino Alto Adige, and uses a locally produced D.O.P. Grana Padano, called Trentingrana, that is unique due to the grasses that the cows graze on in the high mountains of the region.
This dish in this recipe is served with a simple sauce of butter and sage, but feel free to experiment with any of your other favourite sauces. These strangolapreti alla trentina are rich and dense enough to hold up to even heartier sauces from around Italy.
You may just have to change the name to reflect the region of the sauce, or there will definitely be a Nonna somewhere shaking her head in quiet disapproval.
RECIPE: Strangolapreti alla Trentina
1 kg. Fresh Spinach – blanched in boiling water, drained
120 gr. Crusty White Bread – cut into 1 cm (1/2”) cubes
600 gr. Whole Milk (2.5 Cups)
60 gr. Extra Virgin Olive Oil D.O.P. (1/4 Cup)
3 pcs Eggs
240 gr. ‘00’ Flour
60 gr. Bread Crumbs
1 Pinch Nutmeg
120 gr. Unsalted Butter
6 leaves Fresh Sage
200 gr. Trentingrana Cheese D.O.P. – grated
Prepare The Dough:
- After blanching and draining the spinach, press it as hard as you can between layers of paper towel or lint-free napkins. The key is to extract as much water as you can from the spinach.
- In a mixing bowl, place the diced bread along with half the milk, olive oil and a pinch of nutmeg then stir well, allowing the bread to absorb the liquid.
- Meanwhile place the spinach into a narrow tall container (1-litre plastic deli container works well for this) and add the remaining milk and the eggs.
- Puree the spinach mixture using a hand blender until it becomes a creamy puree.
- Add the puree to the bread and mix vigorously to break down the bread and incorporate the puree completely.
- Add the flour, breadcrumbs and 50 grams of the grated Trentingrana and mix very well to form a dough.
- Using 2 spoons take a small amount of the dough (about ½ tablespoon worth) and transfer it back and forth between the two spoons to compress the dough and form a small football-shaped dumpling with 3 sides. Set each aside on a parchment lined baking tray.
- Once the strangolapreti are all made, dust them lightly with flour.
Make the sauce:
- Place the butter in a pan over medium heat and swirl it around the pan to let it melt.
- Once the butter is melted, add the sage and allow the sage to cook in the butter for 2 minutes, or until you can smell the sage very strongly.
Cook and assemble:
- Boil the strangolapreti in salted water, once they float allow them to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove them from the boiling water, drain well and place them directly on a plate.
- Drizzle the warm sauce overtop, sprinkle with the Trentingrana and serve immediately.
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