I am not too proud to admit I have such moments often. Because I like to tinker with flavors and techniques in more familiar fare, I have holes (chasms) in my repertoire that need filling on a regular basis. Having a husband to remind (nag) me of what hasn’t been made (i.e., “hey, this scampi/raspberry sponge roll/salmon with beurre rouge looks good, you’ve never done that before”) helps…or at least (depending on my mood, namely my grumpiness quotient) moves me to action.
But today the motivation to go where I’ve never ventured before was all mine. Almost. Anne Burrell also played a role. She was making spaetzle, braised short ribs, and a zucchini salad with grilled jumbo shrimp and chickpea polenta on her new show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef this morning. I could take or leave the short ribs (I’m not big on bones in my food), but all of the other dishes she made added up to my idea of the perfect meal. I was particularly drawn to the spaetzle; her enthusiasm for the dish convinced me that today was the day to give it a go.
Half of America must have been trying to log onto the Food Network website on Saturday, because I couldn’t load the page with Anne’s spaetzle recipe, so I turned to another fabulous female chef, Dorie Greenspan, whose recipe for herbed spaetzle is on epicurious.
I used her recipe as a guide, but lightened it (replacing one of the eggs with two egg whites), swapping the assortment of herbs for spinach (had some hanging out in the refrigerator) and basil (our herb garden is growing leaps and bounds), and skipping her accompanying sauce altogether.
In a word, the spaetzle were spectacular. Why on earth have I not made these before now? I used Greenspan’s suggestion of a box grater for rubbing the dough into the boiling water. It was decidedly fussy on the first round (and I managed to get green dough in my hair), but tries two and three were a breeze. I love the texture (tender and light) and the bright green from the spinach and herbs was springtime on a plate. I kept the remainder of the meal simple: a purchased rotisserie chicken and some cherry tomatoes sauteed in olive oil until they burst their skins–and let the spaetzle take center stage.
A star has been born in my kitchen. Here’s to spaetzle.
Enlightened Basil Spaetzle (Spätzle)
The dumplings were every bit as delicious rewarmed on day two.
2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Blend flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, egg whites, and milk, forming soft batter. Mix in the spinach and basil.
Working with 1/3 cup batter at a time and using rubber spatula, press batter directly into boiling water through 1/4-inch holes on coarse grater, strainer, or wide ladle (I used my coarse grater with great results). Stir spaetzle to separate and boil 2 minutes. Using fine mesh sieve, scoop spaetzle from pot, drain well, and transfer to prepared bowl.
Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the spaetzle, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 generous servings.
Nutrition per Serving (1/4 of the spaetzle):
Calories 223; Fat 5.2g (sat 2.7g, mono 1.4g, poly 0.6g); Protein 4.7g; Cholesterol 97mg; Carbohydrate 36g; Sodium 435mg.
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)