The Tyrolean dish spaetzle is a sort of gnocchi-like pasta made from flour and egg that is dropped into boiling water to cook and then combined with various sauces like butter or cream and speck. This dish is easy to make, delicious to eat and requires just a few ingredients, which makes it the perfect fresh pasta recipe for beginners in the kitchen.
Historically the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, where spaetzle is a mainstay, was part of Austria, and many of the typical dishes of the area reflect this history and roots. In fact, this dish is also a mainstay in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and Slovenia.Depending on where you are located, spaetzle can be spelled many different ways including spatzle or spätzle, but also called by many other names including knöpfle and nokedli.
The main difference between gnocchi and spaetzle is that gnocchi are made from potatoes while spaetzle noodles are made from flour, originally spelt flour. Gnocchi are also typically much larger than spaetzle, which are fairly small. Making gnocchi also requires a bit more time and skill, while spaetzle is quite simple and quick to prepare.
As mentioned previously, spaetzle is super easy to make for even a novice chef, requiring just four ingredients:
Spinach spaetzle is another local favorite, and simply requires the addition of cooked spinach. If you want to follow the original recipe, you can use spelt flour instead of all purpose flour and of course it never hurts to have farm fresh eggs and milk like they use in Trentino-Alto Adige.
There is a device called a spaetzle maker or press, a simple stainless steel device (sometimes with plastic parts as well) with ¼ inch holes in it, which ensures making spaetzle noodles is very easy. If you need to purchase a spaetzle maker, look for one that is easy to hold, has a way to comfortably rest it against a pot of boiling water and is also easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
Most spaetzle makers are very affordable and can be easily found to purchase online or at a kitchen store. However, if you prefer not to purchase a new kitchen item and don’t already have one, you can use other items such as a pasta colander or grate, just be sure they have holes that are about ¼ inch wide.
While a spaetzle dish is best eaten right after preparation, it is possible to store any extra spaetzle in the refrigerator in a tupperware or glass container for use later, at the most one or two days. If they are without sauce, be sure to drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil so they don’t stick together.
Step 1: Remove your spaetzle from the fridge and bring it up to room temperature.
Step 2: In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil or butter on medium heat and add the spaetzle. Stir gently but constantly to coat the noodles and heat them for about 3 minutes. Add cheese or other topping and serve.
Yes, you can make spaetzle without a spaetzle maker by using another heat-proof instrument that has holes that are about ¼-inch-wide, such as a potato ricer, a colander, a grater or even a slotted spoon. Keep in mind that as it is not a mechanized instrument, spaetzle makers are usually very affordable, many cost between 10 and 25 dollars.
Yes, a cheese grater, sometimes called a box grater, can be used to make spaetzle if it has holes that are approximately ¼ inches wide. The process of making the spaetzle noodles might take a little longer, but with some patience and a bit of trial-and-error you will be able to make spaetzle even without special kitchen tools.
The word spaetzle is derived from the word spatz or “little sparrows” in German.
Your spaetzle might come out tough if you cook them too long or if you add too much flour. The spaetzle should only be cooked for a very short period of time in the boiling water, just until they float to the surface, approximately one minute. The batter should be almost runny, but not quite. There is another method of making spaetzle which creates dough instead of batter and the dough is cut into pieces to form the noodles, but this requires a different recipe and preparation method.