Spätzle with Sage Butter, Parmesan, and Toasted Hazelnuts

October  7, 2013
Photo by Alpha Smoot
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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
  • 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
  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.

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