On my top ten list of things I would eat all the time, if I could, is spaetzle. For me, it has all the things I like best about homemade pasta, with a mere fraction of the effort. Plus the little dumpling shape gives it just a bit of chewiness. As I’ve said before, I just love the stuff.
My one complaint and what probably keeps me from eating it once a week or more, is the lack of variation. Imagine eating only fettucine- wouldn’t you miss angel hair, spaghetti, capellini, linguine, and lasagna? (Not to mention the wonderful array of shapes like gemelli, penne, mostaciolli, cavatappi, etc…) Such is my problem with spaetzle. The tiny dumplings can be little bit bigger or small depending on whether you plunk them into boiling water using a spoon, a colander, or a spaetzle maker. And of course, you can top them with various sauces and European-style mac and cheese. But I’m always on the look-out for new variations to jazz up my basic spaetzle recipe.
Last month, the folks over at Apartment Therapy: the Kitchen posted their recipe for ricotta spaetzle, declaring it to be as light as little clouds. Though I’ve been salivating over the thought of it for weeks now, I just got around to making it the other night. Like any spaetzle, it is shockingly easy to make: just mix flour, egg, water, ricotta, and salt in a bowl, then push it through a strainer into boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes. Voila! A great dinner in 10 minutes. I didn’t think these spaetzle were SO different than the ordinary, ricotta-free recipe, but there was touch more cheesiness and fluffiness than you get from the original recipe. I kept it simple by just putting a pat of butter and some chives on top. Frankly, I ended up having to pack up half of the recipe right away to stop myself from eating the entire two-portion serving.
Anyone have any other favorite spaetzle variations to offer?
Ricotta spaetzle (serves 2, can be easily doubled)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons water
1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Whisk the the flour and salt together. In a separate cup whisk the eggs with ricotta and water until smooth and frothy. Add to the flour and whisk to combine. The batter will be thick and doughy.
2. If you want larger spaetzle, when the water is boiling, scoop the tip of a teaspoon into the batter and drop quickly into the water, pushing the batter off with your finger. Repeat, quickly, until top layer of water is full of spaetzle. If you want smaller spaetzle, put dough into a spaetzle maker or colander, rest atop boiling water, and push dough through holes. Let them boil for about two minutes, or until they all float to the top.
3. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the rest of the batter. Don’t worry too much about overcooking these; the ricotta keeps them light and fluffy. Just try to get them out within a few minutes. (You may need to do more than one batch if there’s too much dough to make a single layer of spaetzle in the pot.)
4. Toss with a small drizzle of butter and a grind of pepper. Top with chopped herbs of your choice.