Spaetzle are a cool little dumpling common around the Alps: Northern Italians eat them, as do the Austrians and Germans. Spaetzle are even found in parts of France. They are made with flour, eggs, usually milk — and something else, in this case pumpkin or squash puree.
You should use freshly made puree, not canned. If you use butternut squash you will be fine, but if you use a wetter squash like a pumpkin, put the puree over a fine-meshed sieve to drain excess water.
How to form the spaetzle? I use a spaetzle maker, but you could use a large-holed cheese grater or a food mill or potato ricer with the coarsest plates installed. You can even flick the batter into the boiling water by hand with a spoon.
Spaetzle need to be boiled, then shocked in ice water, then finished. You can skip this if you are serving them in broth, but if you want them like regular pasta, they are best shocked and then sauteed in fat or oil.
I sauteed the spaetzle above in duck fat and tossed them with fresh sage and pomegranate seeds. They’re served under poached duck.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup pumpkin or squash puree
- 3-4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Whisk the eggs, milk, squash puree, nutmeg and salt together until combined.
- Mix in 1 cup of flour at a time until you get a batter the consistency of muffin batter: Thick and gloopy, loose enough to pour slowly but firm enough to not run through the tines of a fork.
- Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and get a large bowl full of ice water.
- Using a spaetzle maker, a colander with large holes, a potato ricer with large holes, a food mill with a coarse plate, or a large-holed cheese grater, move the batter over the holes to drop little bits into the water.
- They are ready when they float. Skim them off with a slotted spoon or spider and drop the spaetzle into the ice water.
- When they are all done, pour off the ice water and arrange the spaetzle on a sheet pan. Toss with a little oil and set aside. To serve, you can either put the dumplings in broth or saute them in fat or oil.