I love Spring. I love the flowers, and the weather (sometimes), and the resurgence of vegetables. Spring vegetables are here and gone so quickly (if you are buying seasonally, that is), so take advantage of them while you can! Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to make this Spring vegetable dish because it uses spaetzle, which is a bit more fun than your standard pasta, and gruyere, which pairs so well with these veggies.
Spaetzle is a chewy German egg noodle. Melissa is familiar with it because she studied German. I've eaten it in restaurants many times, but only made it once before this past fall. And by made it, I mean that my friend made it with her Grandmother's (I think) recipe and her spaetzle press. Meanwhile, I made a vegetarian ragu with mushrooms, butter, onion, thyme, and oregano and poached some duck eggs (thank you, gorgeous Portland farmer's market).
For this version, we used a recipe that included rye flour in addition to all purpose to give it a little extra flavor/texture. I showed up at Melissa's house saying I didn't buy any rye flour, but she happened to have some, because she has all the flours! Such a good baker. We started by whisking eggs into the flour mixture, and promptly decided that was too tough to do by hand and transferred it to the stand mixer. It was smooth sailing from there as we finished mixing in the eggs, then added milk to thin it out. We covered the dough to let it rest and moved on to prepping the veggies.
We chopped some thin asparagus into manageable lengths and thawed some peas (I wanted to use fresh English peas, but couldn't find any at the store). We also shopped some chives, parsley, and rosemary; minced some garlic; and zested some lemons. Bright, fresh, green flavors. This is also when we grated our Gruyere cheese.
When it was time to cook the spaetzle, we brought a pot of salted water to boil and got out a potato ricer. The press style of potato ricer is very similar to a spaetzle press and is a good substitute. You could also just use a collander and press the batter through the holes with a spatula. Whatever you are using, press the batter into the boiling water. It should break off into small noodles as it falls. Do this is batches (we did three) so as not to overcrowd the pot, and stir after you have finished pressing your batch so that the noodles don't stick to each other. When they float to the top, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or spider.
As each batch was done cooking with tossed it with a bit of 10% Greek yogurt (the original recipe uses creme fraiche, sour cream and full fat yogurt are similar).
Meanwhile, we sauteed the asparagus and garlic in butter; then added some of the pasta water and the peas.
We also added in the spaetzle and gruyere. Mmm - cheesy.
Next went in chives, parsley, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Lastly, we finished it with some rosemary (in place of a rosemary rye breadcrumb topping that neither of us was interested in) and served it with a ribboned kale salad (in place of dandelion greens).
This was such an awesome lunch - chewy, cheesy, with pops of brightness and yummy veggies. Perfect for this rainy spring we've been having. Enjoy!
Rye Spaetzle with Spring Veggies
adapted from Tasting Table
2 cups flour
1 cup rye flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp whole milk
2 tbsp crème fraîche, sour cream, or Cabot 10% plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp butter
1/2–1 lb slender asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments (we used 1/2 lb as directed, but decided we could have gone with the full lb)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup peas, fresh if possible or thawed from frozen
1 cup gruyère, shredded
2 tbsp minced fresh chives
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
salt and black pepper
2 cups chiffonaded/ribboned lacinato kale or other leafy greens
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Whisk together the flour, rye flour, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the eggs. The dough will be very stiff. With the mixer on very low speed, gradually pour in the milk until completely mixed.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the batter rest for 30 minutes on the counter. (This is a good time to prep your other ingredients.)
When the spaetzle batter has rested sufficiently, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Spoon the spaetzle batter into a spaetzle maker, potato ricer, or large colander (it helps to hold the spaetzle maker over top of the boiling water while doing this, as some dough may start to drip out on its own). Gently press the dough through the holes. It will naturally break into small noodles. You may have to do this in batches.
Boil the pasta until it floats, about 2–3 minutes. Scoop out the floating spaetzle with a slotted spoon (reserving the pasta water) and transfer the cooked noodles to a large bowl. Immediately toss with the crème fraîche.
Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, melt the butter. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and stir until warm and fragrant.
Toss the cooked pasta, thawed peas, and shredded gruyère into the skillet with the asparagus. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir this mixture until a thick, cheesy sauce coats the noodles.
Stir in all the chopped fresh herbs (or reserve the rosemary to top) and lemon zest. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Dress the greens with olive oil and lemon juice (kale might need a little massage) and serve alongside or over the top of the spaetzle.