In Germany, being a vegetarian is much harder than in Bellingham, especially if you are looking for fresh healthy options. However, being a vegan is almost unthinkable. Eating out in traditional German restaurants is not even an option. I am no longer a vegan, nor a vegetarian, and I have grown to love the German cuisine, might I add, the Schwaebische kitchen. There is a huge difference between the north and the south cooking culture in Germany, just like there are huge differences all throughout the USA. Personally, the southern kitchen, also known as Schwaebisch, is the best. Fresh ingredients, locally raised meats, and traditional recipes that have French flairs, round the flavor of the southern German cook. Not to mention, the Germans also have a fantastic wine country all along the Bodensee and in the Kaiserstuhl. Across the world people think the Germans only eat sausage and sauerkraut, but I am sorry to say, this is not true. The southern German kitchen has so much to offer, that anyone, from light to decadent in nature, can find a meal that will please. One of my favorite traditional meals are maultaschen. They are similar to ravioli but bigger, usually filled with a spinach and lamb mixture, and topped with sautéed onions. They are full of flavor and satisfy any hidden craving. Usually, they are accompanied by a large mixed salad, where you will find a little bit of everything; cucumber salad, potato salad, daikon radish salad, coleslaw, carrot salad, and on and on and on. One can also find these delicious maultaschen cut up in a broth, or baked in a tomato sauce. I find them perfect with just the sautéed onions. In the restaurants they usually offer a vegetarian option, but not vegan.
Soon my time in Germany will come to an end, and my beloved brother’s will start. Knowing that the traditional, savory, delicious, German kitchen will be off limits for him during his stay, I decided to give it a whirl and make him some vegan maultaschen, so he can have a little bit of the good stuff too. Instead of just making them vegan, I also added a little more wholesome grain, which lacks in the traditional version. I hope he enjoys them as much as I do mine.
These do take their time to prepare and therefore I made a large batch at once. You can easily freeze them for easy dinners later on. Since this recipe takes a little bit of day before preparation, I recommend reading through the whole recipe to make sure a simple step does not hinder you from continuing on.
Vegan Maultaschen with Oat Groats
Makes about 20 large maultaschen (serving size: two per person)
For the Noodle Dough:
200 grams unbleached flour
200 grams spelt flour
½ Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
5 Tbsp olive oil
130 ml lukewarm water (plus extra if needed)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
For the Filling:
125 grams oat groats (soaked overnight)
400 grams cooked spinach (packaged organic frozen spinach, reheated, is a quick option)
1 day old roll (or 2 slices day old bread)
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
fresh grated nutmeg and pepper
chili flakes (optional)
Directions for the noodle dough:
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and begin to knead the dough until smooth. This may take some time and patience. If you feel you need a bit more water sprinkle some over the dough with your hand and then knead some more. Spelt flour needs more water than white flour, and more patience when kneading. Once well combined (can still be somewhat dry in the middle) and smooth on the outside, cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight in a warm spot. This helps the water to evenly diffuse through the dough, giving you a nice smooth dough to work with the following day.
Directions for the oat groats:
Strain the oat groats from soaking water and place into a saucepan. For every one part oat groats add about 3 parts water. Add a vegetable bouillon cube and garlic clove and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and cook slowly until the groats have become creamy. This will take about an hour with a saucepan, and less with a pressure cooker. Stirring the groats every once in a while makes them creamier. Once groats are fully cooked and creamy, with no liquid remaining, use an emersion blender and blend the groats until most groats are pureed, and some whole. You are trying to imitate a texture of ground beef. Once cooked and pureed the total mass of the mixture should come to about 400 grams.
Directions for the remaining of the filling:
Sautee the onions in the oil until browned. Meanwhile, soak day old bread in lukewarm water. In a large bowl add sautéed onions, cooked spinach, and fresh parsley. Squeeze out day old bread and add to the large bowl. Stir the mixture well and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chili flakes. Add the oat groat mixture and mix well. Add more salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Phew!! Now the mixture is all said and done…now comes the fun part....making the delicious maultaschen!
How to make the maultaschen:
Separate the dough in half. It is easier to do the batch in two sections than in one. Sprinkle flour on your working surface and roll out the dough until very thin. Try to keep the dough in a rectangular shape. Make sure as you roll out the dough that you flip it every so often and dust with flour. You do not want the dough to be sticky. Once rolled out cut into rectangles that are about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. You don’t need to measure them exactly, just estimate. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a little bowl and set it near your working station-this is the glue for the maultaschen.
Take one rectangle and dust the top with flour. Roll the rectangle out a bit more to get a nice thin rectangle. Flip and dust with flour again. Using your finger, line the edges of the noodle rectangle with the cornstarch and water mixture. Then place about 2 Tbsp of the filling onto the rectangle and spread it out 2/3 of the length-always leaving the edge free. From left to right flip the dough three times and press the edges with a fork. Repeat with all the dough and all of the filling. Set finished maultaschen aside.
When the first batch is finished. Bring to boil a large saucepan filled with 1/3 water and a bouillon cube. Reduce heat to a low medium and add only enough maultaschen that they do not lay on top of each other. Do not let the water boil. Cook for 10-12 minutes. With an slotted spoon place them individually on a large baking sheet or wire rack to cool. DO NOT STACK ON ONE ANOTHER- THEY WILL STICK AND RIP.
Once they are cool, you can then freeze them, refrigerate them, sauté them, or bake them. If you choose to refrigerate or freeze them, you must reheat them in a broth for 10 minutes. I usually serve them with a large salad and sautéed onions on top. After warming in the broth, I place them in the oiled pan with the onions and allow them to crisp up a bit. Enjoy!
Optional: If you are not vegan you can replace the 400 grams of cooked oat groats with ground beef, lamb, pork, or quark.