On Holy Saturday, velikonoční nádivka, a special kind of Czech Easter food, is baked. It’s full of green spring herbs and smoked meat. This Czech Easter stuffing might look fancy, but it´s effortless to make.
➜ What Is Czech Easter Stuffing?
It’s a traditional meal baked in the Czech Republic just before Easter. It contains smoked meat; rolls dipped in milk, eggs, butter, and spring herbs. It is prepared in a pan and baked in the oven.
Traditionally, velikonoční nádivka was baked as the first meat-based meal after 40-day long fasting before Easter. There were up to 3 kinds of meat included.
Nádivka has various names in various regions of the Czech Republic. It’s also called hlavička, řežábek, sekanina. Those are pretty nice Czech words, aren’t they?
➜ Where Did the Name "Hlavička" Come From?
Hlavička means „little head. “ The name is based on the thorn crown, said to be on Jesus’ head when he was crucified.
Other theories say that its name is based on its key ingredient, a cow’s head, or baked in a circle pan resembling a head shape.
- Smoked meat; diced
- Stale rolls; or white bread
- Green herbs; Czechs like to add nettle
- Smoked meat broth
- Salt, pepper, nutmeg; to taste
Ingredients vary according to region. In some places, boiled meat is used instead of smoked meat. The meat is replaced with klobása, a Czech type of sausage, in other places.
You can also shape "nádivka" into a loaf stuffing form, not only spread it into a baking pan.
Try out also this Czech Easter recipe: Velikonoční jidáše
- Prepare the smoked meat, don’t pour the broth away.
- Wash and scald the herbs, let them cool down and chop them.
- Dice the rolls and put them into a large bowl.
- Beat the yolks with the softened butter.
- Whip the egg whites.
- Dice the smoked meat.
- Pour the rolls over with warm milk.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Flavor with salt and pepper.
- Place them into a tray and bake in the oven.
Recipes for velikonoční nádivka differ; the one here is the traditional one. Today, most people simplify some of the steps, such as not beating the yolks and softened butter. That’s a shame because the filling is less fluffy.
Here you’ll find more Czech Easter recipes
TIP: Cook the smoked meat ahead! Let the smoked meat cool down in the broth where you cooked it. The meat will be juicier.
Nádivka is eaten both warm and cold. Eat it on its own or with boiled potatoes. If you don’t eat all the stuffing in a single day, fry it in a bit of butter in a pan later.
The velikonoční nádivka used to be baked in large quantities and eaten over the course of the whole of Easter.
➜ Spring Herbs in the Stuffing
The stuffing is a form of tribute to nature that’s waking up after a long cold winter. Many wild green herbs start growing in spring.
The herbs used to be handpicked in forests and meadows; today, they’re bought in shops and supermarkets.
One herb is, however, familiar and useful to the Czechs. It’s the stinging nettle! Stinging nettles are considered a weed here, and they grow in ditches. The touch of nettles is easily recognizable – they sting and burn.
However, stinging nettles are spring herbs that are beneficial to your health. They belong in the stuffing; that’s why I picked them on the edge of our garden (wearing gloves, of course).
Other herbs that can be used are parsley, spinach, spring onion, lamb’s lettuce, chives, and leek – all green.
You need a large number of herbs. Before using them, scald them so that they fit in the pan. Then cool them down quickly with cold water and slice them. Remove the occasional hard nettle stalk.
Do not miss these typical Czech Easter dishes:
- Velikonoční beránek – Czech Easter lamb cake
- Jidáše – Czech Easter sweet pastry
- Mazanec – Czech sweet Easter bread
- Creamed spinach
Velikonoční nádivka - Czech Easter Stuffing
- 3 white bread rolls stale
- 4 eggs
- ¾ stick (80 g) butter unsalted, softened at room temperature
- 10 oz (280 g) smoked meat fattier
- pepper freshly ground
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- 3 oz (80 g) fresh green herbs
- milk and broth to pour over the white bread rolls, maybe 1-1 and ½ cups
- butter and breadcrumbs to grease the pan
- Boil the smoked meat: cover the meat with enough water (1-2 cm above the meat) and cook for 1 hour. Don’t dispose of the broth.
- Take the butter out of the fridge so that it can soften.
- Grease the pan with butter and dust it with breadcrumbs.
- Get the herbs. If you pick them outside, then do it as far from the road as you can. Wash them with ample water. Scald them, then wash them again in cold water and chop them. Remove the occasional hard nettle stalks.
- Heat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
- Dice the rolls into pieces about 1.5 cm in size, place them into a large bowl and pour the warm milk and broth over them.
- Crack the eggs, separate the yolks and whites.
- Whip the whites and salt together until they form stiff “snow”.
- Beat the yolks with the softened butter.
- Add the chopped herbs, diced smoked meat, egg white snow, and beaten yolks with butter to the bowl with rolls.
- Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of grated nutmeg (make two or three strokes on the grater). Mix everything well.
DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:Conversion chart