This German pasta casserole is one I want to take a bath in! I love everything about it from the loads of creamy spinach to the rustic bratwurst meatballs.
About this Recipe
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I wasn't always a spinach fan. But creamed spinach is what got me hooked. I remember eating lunch at a friend's house when growing up and her mom served creamed spinach with I can't remember what else (Leberkäse and a fried egg is a good guess - oh how I miss Leberkäse!). And that's not the point. The point is that I remember that day as the day when I fell in love with spinach. Suddenly I was in love with all things spinach such as spinach stuffed ravioli (I even made these myself when I was 8! It turned out to be more of a spinach soup, but we still had fun!), frozen spinach pizza (I'd always burn the roof of my mouth on this one because I wouldn't stand waiting for it to cool enough to eat! But I remember it being so good and garlicky!) and also Maultaschen, which I have posted on my blog before!
Today I decided to take my spinach love to the next level and create a pasta dish that screams creamy, garlicky spinach, combined with the rustic flavors of crisp-sautéed Bratwurst in meatball shape and so many different kinds of the best cheeses. I even got a little extra excited and made my own spinach pasta using my KitchenAid attachment to go along with it! I believe it was worth it if you want to spend your time making pasta (it's so therapeutic to me!), but to make this a quicker and still super satisfying experience, you can of course just use prepared pasta (and you can buy spinach pasta that's prepared as well, although plain pasta is great too!). Feel free to choose any pasta shape, but I think a long, wide pasta like tagliatelle or fettuccine are exceptionally great in this pasta casserole.
Also, if you want to make this extra German, you can use my Bratwurst recipe, omit the hardest part (stuffing them into casings!), and just use ground meats (so you don't have to use a meat grinder) and finely chopped bacon etc. in the making of your Bratwurst meatballs! Buying good, fresh brats from your local butcher is of course a great option as well and the route I took, especially since I already made my own pasta too (I used beer brats, but I am already dreaming about using all kinds of different brats next!). Please make sure it's fresh, raw bratwurst though, so you can then remove the casing and shape the meatballs. You'll love this, I promise!
For the creaminess and cheesiness in this dish I went FOUR different routes. Cream and cream cheese are finding their way into the spinach, which gets mingled with the pasta, then shredded gruyère is sprinkled atop to crisp up during baking, and finally pecorino (you can also use parmesan if pecorino is not available) is grated over the top after it comes out of the oven piping hot. I love this fancy cheese grater, which will make you feel like you're at an Italian restaurant.
This dish also boats with vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and C, potassium and iron, mostly from the crazy amount of spinach you're using. So eat up and feel good about this über creamy, spinach-garlicky pasta dish! My 2-year-old loved it too and I bet you could turn any spinach sceptic into a spinach lover with this casserole!
Scroll on down for the recipe, now in printable version.
Rahmspinat Auflauf Essentials
The Bratwurst screamed beer at me, so I gave in and gave it what it wanted! A refreshing local Dunkel from KC Bier Co. was chosen and a shot of delicious Bärenjäger honey liqueur was chosen to lightly sweeten and enhance the rustic flavors of this bratwurst, gruyère and pecorino cheeses. Try this out at home with a Dunkel from your local brewery and of course Bärenjäger, a natural German honey liqueur.
To find out where Bärenjäger (also available in Honey Bourbon!) is available in your area, fill out the short product finder form.
More German Pasta Recipes
Pesto Pasta Salad
Next up is a traditional and easy German soup recipe with dumplings that's very popular with kids too. Make sure to subscribe to my blog now, so you're not missing out when this new Griessklösschensuppe post goes live!
Rahmspinat Nudelauflauf mit Bratwurstbällchen: German Creamed Spinach Pasta Casserole with Bratwurst Meatballs
- 500 g fresh pasta tagliatelle or fettuccine
- 200 g fresh, raw bratwurst from the meat counter
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 450 g fresh spinach that's one giant clamshell, reserve one handful to fold in with pasta before baking
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1.5 teaspoon vegetable bouillon
- 150 ml heavy whipping cream
- 100 g cream cheese
- freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 75 g gruyère cheese finely grated
- 50 g pecorino cheese finely grated (can sub Parmesan if you can't find it)
- Remove the casing from the bratwurst and shape into meatballs. Cook over medium heat until browned from all sides, about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, sautee the onion in the butter over medium heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Now turn the heat to low, stir in the spinach and let it wilt in steps until it's all worked in. Reserve one handful of spinach to fold in with the pasta before baking.
- Add the cream and blend (I like to use an immersion blender for this) until smooth.
- Add in the vegetable bouillon and cream cheese and heat until all the cream cheese has incorporated. Season with salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg.
- Cook the pasta according to directions (cook to al dente, so on the low end of the recommended time).
- Add the cooked pasta to the spinach mixture and stir together, adding the reserved handful of spinach.
- Transfer to a casserole dish (if your pan is oven-safe, you can also bake it in there and save yourself some clean-up!).
- Top with the meatballs and gruyère cheese, then bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese (can sub Parmesan cheese), then serve.
I received compensation from Niche Import Co. in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may be compensated if you click certain links.
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