Maultaschen are stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli. They are made from a pasta dough and various kinds of filling. Maultaschen are a specialty of the Swabian (Schwaben) region but are served and enjoyed throughout Germany.
The traditional filling is made from bacon, onions, spinach, crumbled Bratwurst and/or ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The dough is a basic pasta dough, made from flour, eggs, and water. Maultaschen are usually shaped into a square or rectangular shape. Maultaschen that are added to soups are called Suppenmaultaschen (Soup Maultaschen) and are smaller in size.
Maultaschen are cooked either in boiling water or in a broth. Once fully cooked, they can either be eaten as is or browned in a pan with a little butter. The classic Swabian way to cook and serve Maultaschen is in a beef broth.
Although there are several theories describing the invention of the Maultaschen, the most popular story dates the dish to the 17th century. The story goes that a monk from the Maulbronn Monestary received a large piece of meat during Lent. To prepare a meal that appeared to be meat-free, the monk chopped the meat up finely then mixed it with spinach and herbs. He then hid the filling in small pieces of pasta dough. The new invention was called "Maulbronn Nudeltaschen". Later the name was shortened to Maultaschen.
Historically, Maultaschen were considered a poor-people food. It was an economical and creative way to use left-overs, dried-out bread, and not-so-fresh vegetables. Today, however, it is served in many restaurants and enjoyed throughout Germany and in many other countries.