I think my small amount of German heritage must come out in my love for squishy dumplings like these spätzle. They are the less-fussy dumpling. These mini free-form dumplings are super soft, delightfully flavored and easy to make. There’s no need to mess with rolling out sticky dough, like in my beloved Chicken and Dumplings.
There is one part to making spätzle that can be tricky. If spätzle is new to you, then you probably don’t have a spätzle maker handy. Finding a device with the right sized holes to deliver your dumplings into the boiling water can be challenging. I first tried my regular colander and ended up with a big pile of rice-sized mush. I found a flat cheese grater with holes that were big enough, but it didn’t fit snugly over the side of the pot and was clumsy when I tried pushing the dough through the holes. In the end, I sprung for the cheapest spätzle maker I could find on Amazon ($6.99).
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Of course, if you don’t want to shell out the dough (pun intended) for a spätzle maker, then a large-holed colander, a potato ricer or a flat cheese grater will also work.
Traditional spätzle is usually served sauteed in butter with breadcrumbs and maybe a sprinkle of fresh herbs. It’s frequently served with savory, saucy meat dishes. I tossed my leftover spätzle into a pot of Cooking Light’s Meatball Stroganoff in place of egg noodles, and we devoured them! However, the real star was when these spätzle were served as an accompaniment for crispy seared duck breasts. I’ll have that recipe for you next week, but until then you can practice making these little morsels of goodness for your dinner. Enjoy!
Before the recipe, let’s have a quick heart-to-heart about non-stick pans. There is a lot of information about the safety of non-stick pans out there. While there are possible environmental and health risks to traditional non-stick pans, there is very little risk in using these pans at moderate heat levels. I use a non-PFOA, non-PFTE pan with a new “ceramic” coating in place of the traditional “Teflon” coating. These new coatings are not as durable as Teflon, but do not contain the materials concerning to some. If you want more information on PFOA and PFTE, check out this article at Good Housekeeping.
I own exactly one non-stick pan, and I use it for eggs and occasional low-fat cooking. Very rarely do I find a recipe that really needs a non-stick pan. I find that most of the time proper pan-preheating and careful cooking techniques are enough to prevent sticking. I do find a non-stick pan helpful for sauteing these spätzle though. I found the soft delicate texture of the dumplings too difficult when sauteing them in a traditional stainless-steel pan. Of course, if you are looking for a durable pan that has more non-stick ability than a standard stainless-steel pan and you want one that is considered safer than a non-stick pan, then you can always opt for this ultra-classy vintage enameled cast-iron pan from ETSY or a new enameled cast-iron pan like these spiffy LeCreuset pans.
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