Spätzle with Sage Butter, Parmesan, and Toasted Hazelnuts

October 7, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Although I've always loved spätzle, it never occurred to me to try making it myself. A few years ago, I moved to Austria, where spätzle's widespread availability (on menus and in supermarkets) not only led me to consume it in shamefully large quantities, but also prompted me to learn how to produce it to ensure that after leaving Austria, I would never have to live without it. Spätzle is quite easy to make -- even without a spätzle maker or press -- and when it's tossed in butter and sprinkled with some fresh herbs, it makes a lovely and quick side dish (especially for anything meaty and saucy). This is a dressed up version, inspired by the frequent pairing of gnocchi with browned butter, sage, and Parmesan. It would make a great addition to any dinner party menu, but especially ones featuring autumnal flavors. Any spätzle recipe could be used as a base, but I've included my own, which I've developed over time. Unlike most spätzle recipes, it does not feature a steep ratio of egg yolks to egg whites. Using a higher egg yolk count yields a richer, more luxurious spätzle, which is delicious as a main, but is a bit too heavy for a side -- especially if you, like me, insist on leaving room for dessert.célineismoi

Food52 Review: WHO: Célineismoi is approaching her one-year Food52 anniversary.
WHAT: A cross between dumplings and noodles that’s a change of pace from gnocchi (and that you should eat while wearing lederhosen).
HOW: Make a batter out of eggs, milk, and flour. While the batter chills the fridge, toast hazelnuts, brown butter, and fry sage leaves. Then, shove the batter through a colander into a pot of boiling water. Three minutes later, your egg pasta will be done. Top it with generous amounts of toasty brown butter, nuts, sage, and cheese.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If you have a colander, a spoon, and an hour, you can make spätzle -- these are the easiest homemade dumplings on the face of the earth. And while spätzle is normally heavy and rich, this one uses an equal number of egg whites and yolks, which makes it light enough to consume by the bowlful or to serve next to a roast or stew.
The Editors

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

For the spätzle:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

For assembling spätzle with sage butter, Parmesan, and toasted hazelnuts:

  • 1 spätzle (above)
  • 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts
  • 1 cup butter or 3/4 cup clarified butter or ghee
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, more to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk until they are completely combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and nutmeg and stir it well, making sure there are no lumps in the dry ingredients.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and gently pour in half of the egg and milk mixture. Gently stir to mix, and slowly add the remaining egg and milk liquid, incorporating all of the flour and spices. Don’t over mix! Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. While the spätzle batter rests, toast and chop the hazelnuts. Put them aside for later.
  5. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the sage leaves. Continue to cook until the butter comes to a boil. Swirling often, continue to cook the butter until you see brown flecks and the butter smells nutty. Remove the pan from the heat immediately. Using tongs, remove the sage leaves and set them on a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
  6. To cook the spätzle, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Do not rest your spätzle press or lid (spätzle-profi) over the boiling water, as it will be hard to use if it heats up. Remove the batter from the fridge.
  7. If you do not have a spätzle press, you may use a colander to shape your spätzle. Give your press or colander a light coating of nonstick spray or rub it with a paper towel with a few drops of oil on it -- this step is not essential, but I find that it makes the press slightly easier to use.
  8. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, hold or rest your press or colander over the pot and pour the batter through it. The volume of batter you'll use depends on the size of your press: If you are using a colander, pour about one third of the dough into the colander and use the back of a large spoon to press it through the holes; if you are using a press, follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  9. Allow the spätzle to boil 2 to 3 minutes and then remove it from the water using a slotted spoon, a spider, or a mesh strainer. Quickly run the spätzle under cold water and then leave them to dry while you finish cooking the rest. If the spätzle appear to be sticking as they dry, drizzle a tiny bit of oil or melted butter over them. Continue this process until all the batter has been cooked.
  10. Once the spätzle is cooked, reheat the skillet containing the butter. Once it's hot, add the spätzle to the pan, let them sit for about a minute, and then give them a few gentle tosses. Don’t worry if a few pieces get a bit brown or crusty -- those are the best ones!
  11. Transfer the spätzle to a serving vessel and toss immediately with one cup of grated Parmesan. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the spätzle and then crumble the fried sage leaves on top. Serve warm.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Butter|Cheese|Egg|Hazelnut|Milk/Cream|Nutmeg|Parmesan|Sage|Halloween|Christmas|Fall

Reviews (12) Questions (1)

12 Reviews

QueenSashy November 2, 2014
This recipe reads like a piece of heaven. I love spatzle, and have been recently fantasizing about making them myself... Thanks for giving me the boost!
 
Scribbles October 26, 2014
Having lived in Germany - specifically in Swabian area - I love spatzle! I've never tried to make it and now I will - this sounds delicious.
 
tortellini October 22, 2014
The latest and greatest in "spätzle technology" is this: http://www.spätzle-shaker.de/Sp%C3%A4tzle-Shaker-2/?PHPSESSID=7pihle9ppl21m62203taalp7i5<br />I'm not sure if this is available in the states but it sure works great. <br />Any other method is good too - the main thing is to eat a lot of spätzle ;-)<br />I like the herbed spätzle versions too, any combination of finely chopped herbs just added to the dough works well.
 
Greenstuff October 21, 2014
Making spätzle is a lot of fun! I use a spätzle maker like this one http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/05/gadgets-spaetzle-maker-kitchen-tools-pasta-dumplings.html<br />rather than a press or any of the other many hacks that people use. It's one more gadget in a busy kitchen, but like I said--a lot of fun! Great looking recipe, célineismoi!
 
tortellini October 21, 2014
I like your idea of combining italian ingredients with traditional german food. That sounds delicious.<br />However i have to make one point : Spätzle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4tzle) are a southern German traditional dish, not Austrian.<br />They are swabian to be precise ;-) We Swabians are very proud of this "invention" and love to tell the world about it. <br />My recipe is a bit more tadional and old fashioned, it uses more eggs and no milk (never heard of milk in Spätzle) http://www.kuechenkitchen.de/2014/01/schwaebische-spaetzle-swabian-spaetzle/<br />I will definately try your italianish version though!
 
Author Comment
célineismoi October 21, 2014
While I have definitely used more traditional recipes in the past, this is the recipe I have found that works best for me. Perhaps I just lack the spätzle making gift ;)<br /><br />I was aware of spätzle's origins long before moving to Austria and did not mean to give the impression that they are uniquely Austrian. Austria is simply the first place I lived where they were widely available, but regardless, it is completely legitimate to spread the word about their provenance - I would be proud if we had invented spätzle too!
 
Sue K. December 7, 2016
Correction. Many areas claim to be the originators of spatzle and no one knows for sure where the actual origin is. And you provided a link to wikipedia and it state this there as well. The word spatzle is Swabian but the same food item is also called Spätzli or Chnöpfli in Switzerland or Knöpfle or Hungarian Nokedli, Csipetke or Galuska. Yes they are served in Southern Germany, Austria etc. etc. etc. And nowhere did she say that they originated in Austria, read what she said not what you make up.
 
tortellini December 8, 2016
Correction of the correction (how german can you get...;-) )<br />Nowhere did I say that celineismoi claimed spätzle to be austrian (read what I said not what...). <br />What I did say was that "Spätzle" are a swabian traditional dish - the swabians made up the word for it. "Spätzle" are a (major) swabian specialty. <br />In 2012 the European Union gave them status as a swabian specialty with a protected origin like some cheeses (if you can read German: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:069:0003:0004:DE:PDF)<br />There are countless versions of boiled-in-salted-water-dough called any number of things. I'll spare us repeating all those. Those are lovely and different and special and worth a try, all of them. Some people even call those Spätzle (spatzle or spatzel in the US). <br />And again, I love the approach to italianize a traditional swabian (because of the NAME: Spätzle ) dish . Its lovely and tastes a bit like the gnocchi I like to make - an italian version of a swabian classic, thank you celineismoi!<br /><br /><br />
 
Sue K. December 8, 2016
tortellini your words "They are swabian to be precise ;-) We Swabians are very proud of this "invention" The word is swabian not the invention. You did not say that or most of the remainder of your argument.
 
tortellini December 8, 2016
Here is the Document about "Spätzle" by the European Union in english if anyone is interested: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:069:0003:0004:EN:PDF
 
em-i-lis October 20, 2014
This sounds lovely and delicious! Congrats!
 
aargersi October 7, 2013
I think you have just inspired my to make to make spatzle - something I have been wanting to tr for quite awhile!