‘So when you arrive I’ll have a few bottles of wine and beer chilling in the fridge. Oh and tonight I’ll teach you my grandmother’s recipe for homemade pasta too. Sound good?’
How could we ever refuse!
Our wanders through Germany led us to the tiny town of Warngau and the doorstep of our wonderful host Michael. The sounds of birds and happy cows making music with their bells replaced the car horns and exhaust fumes of the big city as we hopped off the train and into the quiet countryside.
It was so nice to walk in the door and drop our packs knowing we had a few days to settle down in one place, and with an awesome host too!
It was even better when we were whisked outside to a gorgeous country garden, tops knocked off a few bottles of ice cold lager along the way. (Good thing one Wandercook had been taught to like beer during a temple-stay in Japan, by a 60 year old Monk no less… but that’s a story for another time).
A cool drink and a rest in the shade were just what we needed after a long day of walking in the sun, but it didn’t take long before we were ready and raring to get our hands dirty in the kitchen.
In a flash of steel, chopped lettuce and cherry tomatoes flew into a salad bowl before being drizzled in an amazing warm honey nut dressing.
Then the real fun began. Whoever said oil and water don’t mix has never made Spaetzle (aka spätzle).
Coming into our lives like a dream, spaetzle is Germany’s take on pasta, and we think it’s incredible. Not only is it a breeze to make with (alllllmost) none of the mucking around involved in Italian style pasta, but it also has a delicious chewy texture when cooked that we can’t get enough of. MMMM mmmm!
So, into a bowl went the flour, eggs, salt, oil and water before being whipped up into a creamy, smooth flowing dough. It looked much too runny, or so we thought.
How in the world can this become pasta?
Safe to say it did take us a little time to master Michael’s well practiced technique, but once we did it was incredibly quick and easy. First up place a dollop of dough on to the paddle and spread it out thinly until it’s only a few millimetres thick. Then with quick repetitive slicing motions flick the runny dough off the paddle into boiling water using a small metal scraper.
Flick flick flick flick flick. In seconds flat a batch of pasta was in the pan and merrily bubbling away. If you don’t have a scraper, a non-serrated kitchen knife or spatula will do.
The best thing about this pasta is how perfectly imperfect it is, depending on how you flick it. Some strips are thin, some are thick. All are delicious!
This recipe for homemade spaetzle pasta (pronounced shpetz-ler) was handed down to Michael from his grandmother, and we’re told she is much pickier when it comes to the thickness of the slices!
A very serious family dispute indeed…
Disputed or not, spaetzle is a family favourite on Sunday evenings, especially when topped with his grandmother’s decadently delicious crispy fried breadcrumbs.
Yep, we said it before but we’ll say it again: Spaetzle is so much easier to prepare than Italian style pasta or even Japanese udon noodles. Apart from allowing the dough some time to rest after all that mixing, you only need about 15 minutes all up from cracking the eggs to tucking in. You can also jazz up the dish by adding in your favourite garden herbs such as fresh chives or oregano.
Best of all Michael also gave us two great recipes for a homemade pasta sauce and topping that we’ve included below. The first is the infamous golden breadcrumbs, followed by an easy, creamy gravy awesome-sauce.
Did we mention they’re quick and easy? Whip them up while the dough is resting and they’ll be ready and waiting to spice up your spaetzle.
Bonus: Here’s a great way to help use up leftovers from other meals you’ve made during the week. Place your spaetzle in a pan with some chopped up leftover sausages and/or steak, a few handfuls of herbs, bacon, tomato and a few eggs and you’ll have a tasty batch of gröstle (aka German leftovers) with almost zero effort.
Always a win in our books!
For the dough
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup soda water
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 4-5 sprigs chopped oregano leaves
For the toppings
- 1/2 - 2/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 pods real gravy or roux
- 200 ml cream
- Brown food colouring optional
- Water as needed
- Add all the ingredients for the batter except herbs into a large mixing bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add enough water so that the dough becomes quite runny, not dry. It should flow easily off the spoon. However if it becomes too thin you can add more flour until you're happy with the texture.
- Continue mixing until the dough becomes smooth and shiny, then allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and add in a handful of salt. Use a wooden paddle and a scraper or non-serrated kitchen knife to form the dough into shape and flick it into the hot water. Dip the paddle and scraper into the boiling water frequently to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Place a scoop of dough on the wet paddle and spread over the surface. Use the scraper to roughly chop the dough and push it off the paddle into the water.
- Cook small batches at a time. When cooked the pasta will float on the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked pasta and set aside in a colander.
- About halfway through cooking the pasta, add the herbs to the remaining uncooked dough and mix thoroughly. Cook in the same way as above.
- Place all the cooked pasta in a heat safe dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Top half of the pasta with the gravy and half with the crispy fried breadcrumbs.
For the toppings
- Add roux/gravy sauce and cream to a small saucepan. Mix/whisk over a low to medium heat.
- Add food colouring if too pale, and add additional water if too salty.
- Pour over the pasta when ready to serve.
Crispy Buttered Breadcrumbs
- Gently melt butter in a separate pan. Add some salt and the breadcrumbs, and mix together. This mixture will be quite dry; you can add more butter to make it more moist but be careful as it may become too heavy.
- Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously until golden brown.
- Spoon over the plain pasta when ready to serve.