Spaetzle is Germany’s favorite homemade pasta. It’s surprisingly easy to make spaetzle from scratch. Once you’ve made it, mix the tender noodles with caramelized onions, wilted greens and gruyere cheese to make this scrumptious comforting casserole.
Since the inspiration for this recipe came on a morning dog walk, I’m going to introduce you to my dog Baxter. He’s my good buddy and I adore him. Every morning we walk or run together. We have our usual haunts where he meets up with his friends and I meet up with mine.
Recently, on a ridiculously cold and icy day, we ran into a fellow Golden Doodle named Merlin. While the dogs were romping around, Merlin’s owner and I got to talking. I found out that she’s German. She told me her son was home from college for winter break and that she cooked spaetzle, his favorite food. As she was describing the buttery, cheesy casserole of tiny tender dumplings I knew what I had to do.
What Is Spaetzle?
Spaetzle is a cross between pasta and dumplings. The dough is a mixture of flour, eggs, milk or water, and salt. You can spice it up with nutmeg, black pepper or any herbs that you like. The dumplings are formed by pressing the dough through holes and into boiling water. You can use a flexible spatula to press the dough through the holes of a colander, steamer or anything you have around that has small holes. Or you can use a spaetzle maker like this one.
How To Make Spaetzle
- Make an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with water and ice. This will prevent the hot cooked spaetzle from overcooking.
- Boil water: Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. While it’s coming to a boil, make the spaetzle dough.
- Make the Spaetzle Dough: The dough is a simple mix of eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper.
- Form The Little Dumplings: hold the spaetzle make over the pot of boiling water, add ¼ of the dough, and slide the cup back and forth, allowing the little dumplings to form and fall into the water. Boil for 3 minutes or so and transfer the cooked spaetzle into the ice bath using a slotted spoon. Repeat three more times, until all the dough is used up. When the ice in the ice bath has melted, drain the spaetzle, put it in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking. At this point you can store it in the fridge, covered, for a day or two before proceeding with this recipe or any other recipe that calls for spaetzle.
There are many ways to eat spaetzle. It’s a perfect side dish for soaking up the juices of a saucy stew or goulash. It’s also delicious browned in butter in a skillet with herbs or cooked in a casserole with butter and cheese, which is a common German preparation.
I went with the German mac ‘n cheese version, adding caramelized onions (one of my all time favorite ingredients), grated gruyere, and wilted winter greens (for something healthy and colorful). I used kale and chard in my casserole but you can substitute your favorite greens. Here’s a helpful guide to greens by Cooking Light.
I have to confess, if I could eat anything I wanted without worrying about my weight or my health, it would be macaroni and cheese and lasagna every day. This spaetzle with caramelized onions, wilted greens and gruyere is my German-inspired version of tasty, cheesy comfort food, with a healthy twist. I hope you enjoy!
Here’s the spaetzle recipe. If you try it I hope you’ll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think!Print
Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions, Wilted Greens and Gruyere
A casserole of tiny tender dumplings with sweet onions, wilted greens and melted cheese.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: Vegetarian Side or Main Dish
- Method: Boil and Bake
- Cuisine: German-Inspired
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 3 (sifted) cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more, to taste and for the spaetzle cooking water
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups)
- 1 bunch lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale), thick stems removed, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch swiss chard, thick stems removed, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 6 ounces grated gruyere cheese
- Make the Spaetzle: In a large bowl, whisk or beat eggs until they start to get foamy on top. Stir in milk. In a medium bowl combine four (3 cups), salt (½ teaspoons) and pepper (⅛ teaspoon). Add flour mixture to eggs a cup at a time, stirring until just combined. (over-working the dough makes it tough) You will have a fairly firm batter. If it’s too firm and not sticky at all, add a bit of water. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working with ¼ of the batter at a time, hold the spaetzle maker over the pot and slide the cup back and forth, allowing the dough to fall into the water. You may need to use a knife to help release the dough. Allow it to boil for another 2 ½-3 minutes. Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer cooked spaetzle to the ice bath. Repeat three more times or until all the batter is used up. Once the ice has melted, drain the spaetzle. Put it in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. At this point you can store it in the fridge, covered, for a day or so before proceeding.
- Caramelize The Onions: In a large heavy pot combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sliced onions, ½ teaspoons salt and 3 tablespoons of water. Heat the mixture, stirring, until it starts to sizzle, then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Wilt the Greens: While the onions are cooking, heat the remaining oil 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the greens and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl toss the spaetzle with the wilted greens, caramelized onions and grated cheese. Season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Pour the whole mixture into a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch casserole. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted.
Storing and Freezing Spaetzle: Spaetzle can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight plastic bag for 2 days or you can freeze it for up to 1 month. Here’s a good article on how to freeze spaetzle.
Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
Keywords: homemade German pasta, cheesy homemade pasta with caramelized onions and leafy greens
Related Product: spaetzle-maker