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Opantance: Slovak millet and gnocchi with caramelized onions

This regional Slovak dish uses millet, once widely used in Slovakia but now less known. Mixed with gnocchi, it makes a satisfying dish suitable for any number of toppings, including but not limited to caramelized onions.

Servings 6 people


  • 5 onions
  • 3-4 tablespoons lard or other fat, divided
  • 1 cup millet
  • salt (see amounts in instructions)
  • 3 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups flour see above


  1. Cook the millet. Add lard or other fat to a small pot and pour in raw millet, stirring for four minutes until it is lightly toasted. Add half a teaspoon salt and 1 3/4 cup water. Stir, bring to a boil and then set over low heat and put the lid on. Let the millet cook for 15 minutes, then take off the heat and let it sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Alternatively, if you are into soaking grains, soak the millet overnight covered in water, drain, and cook it with only one cup of water.

  2. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small pot with one teaspoon of salt. Take the pot off the heat and slowly pour in the flour, stirring all the while. Pour in flour until you have a stiff dough, and there is extra flour in the pot. Exactly how much flour will depend on the type that you have.

  3. Dump the flour mixture onto a flat surface and knead it until the dough is smooth. You may need to let it cool as it will be quite hot. Break it into three or four pieces and roll it with your hands. Make a 'snake' about about 1.5 cm (1 inch) thick and cut it into approximately 1 cm (3/8 to 1/2 inch) pieces.

  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180C(350F). In a medium sized pot, bring 2 litres/quarts of water to boil with 1 tablespoon of salt. Dump in the gnocchi and cook until they float, about 7 minutes. Drain the gnocchi, mix in the millet, and pour into a 9x13 pan to bake for 10-15 minutes (optional).

  5. If you want the onions nice and sweet and soft, start cooking them at the beginning. Otherwise, cook the onions while the opantance is baking. In either case, slice onions and add to 2-3 tablespoons of lard over low heat (to caramelize) or medium temperature. You can also add any other flavours you would like, such as bacon, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic. Saute desired ingredients and spread over opantance. Serve hot.