My love affair with spaetzle started years ago when I went to visit a friend in Germany. We were having lunch in a lovely little restaurant and spaetzle was one of my options as a vegetarian. It tasted lovely - thick egg pasta with a lovely butter and herb sauce. When I came back from my holiday, I searched everywhere in the US to find German restaurants that served spaetzle and though I found a few, they were never as good.
I bought dried spaetzle from specialty grocery stores and tried to recreate it at home, but there's no substitute for fresh pasta, is there?
On the other side of this story, a friend and I have been talking about how it would be incredible if we could make our own pasta at home. I decided I just had to try before deeming it too difficult. And my favorite kind of pasta has to be spaetzle.
I came across the most wonderful recipe in a blog that I read religiously, Eating Out Loud. Allen whips up the most delicious food and makes it all sound so easy, his photographs are great and his writing is so simple and straightforward, that you want to go back to the beginning and read every single post of his.
And, thanks Allen for this recipe because it was perfect and as easy as you described. The spaetzle was outstanding, and I can never go back to eating the store-bought version.
(original recipe here)
I made a few changes to the recipe - I wanted to recreate the butter and herb sauce, so I omitted the veggies and the poached egg. And we had this for dinner as a full meal. But the basic dough remains the same:
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup Milk
Salt, to taste
First set a saucepan to simmer with salted water.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and milk.
Start slowly folding in the flour, eggs and milk from the inside out, until everything is fully combined. The dough will have a sticky consistency. Set aside the dough for 15-20 minutes.
Now came the part I was dreading. You have to squeeze the dough out of a press and into the boiling water. The general way to do it (in lieu of a special spaetzle maker) is to press the dough through a wide-holed colander into the boiling water. I tried this and got pasta that looked quite bad (it still tasted great, but looked nothing like spaetzle). And then my husband had a brilliant idea to use a Murukku Maker. Murukku is a south Indian fried snack that also requires a special mold which is somewhat like a noodle maker. You can read more about it here.
I tried it with the Murukku mold with fantastic results. I now had noodle-shaped pasta floating in the boiling water (looked a little too much like worms!). Now you have to wait for about 3-5 minutes while the pasta gets cooked and starts rising to the top.
Once its at the top of the water, skim it off and put it into a cold water bath. Let them chill for a bit to stop the cooking. This part seems to be optional - some sites suggest it, while others don't seem to do it.
Heat a saute pan with some butter and minced garlic. Add the pasta and toss around until coated and slightly browned. I added a blend of dried herbs and sauteed for a little while (about 5 minutes).
Plate and serve warm with cheese sprinkled on top (I shaved some Parmesan on top). Its absolutely authentic-tasting and so easy! Do try it at home - it's a keeper!
Want a closer look?
(I also found these sites to be very useful for the actual step-by-step photos - check here and here).