Sunday, March 22, 2009


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 Vegan Wholegrain Spaetzle with Browned Parsnips (This particular recipe is from my book,  World Vegan FeastThe basic vegan spaetzle recipe-- wholegrain or not-- is at the end of this post. )

I really love homemade pasta, but I have to confess I don't make it that often these days. However, there is a quick and easy type of "drop noodle" (or "drop dumpling") that anyone of Northern Germanic, Austrian or Hungarian descent will know about, but many of the rest of us have more recently discovered. It's called spaetzle or spätzle or spätzli in German (pronounced shpet′slē), and galuska or nokedli in Hungarian. Similar drop noodles are called knöpfle or knödel in Southern Germany and Austria; and knöpfli in Switzerland. (Some of these words remind me of the Italian dumpling/pasta gnocchi, and, indeed, spaetzli are made in Northern Italy.) The German word is literally translated from German as "little sparrow".

You just mix up a batter, let it rest a bit and then scrape the batter (which is like a thick pancake batter) through some sort of device with holes so that it drops into boiling water like little beads. It cooks in a very short time. You drain it and serve it like any pasta, really. Spaetzle are usually served with gravies or cheesey, creamy sauces, or cooked in browned butter, but modern chefs are experimenting with many innovative ways of serving it. It is mixed with cooked greens, for instance, or herbs are added to the batter, or it is served with tomato sauce. A favorite German treatment for spaetzle is kaesesplaetzle, which are spaetzle mixed with cream and grilled chopped bacon, then topped with cheese and more bacon, and baked for half an hour or so. I'll have to work on a vegan version of that! But, you see, it can easily be used instead of macaroni or other pasta in casseroles.

Spaetzle seems to be all the rage just now-- like many other cheap, peasant foods of the past. The original version is made with white flour and lots of eggs. I devised a vegan version for the final issue of my newsletter, the Vegan Feast. We liked it fine, but yesterday I wanted to make a whole grain version that wasn't heavy.

White whole wheat flour came to mind, because it is lighter in color and lighter in taste than the ordinary whole wheat flour made from red wheat. Generally speaking, it is best to use an all-purpose or a bread flour for these noodles, because you need gluten to give them some "bite" (especially with no egg to hold them together). However, I only had white whole wheat PASTRY flour in my cupboard. That didn't deter me, however, and there is an option in the recipe for using that type of flour, with a little addition. Chickpea flour (or soy flour) provides the protein and color of eggs, and more whole grain goodness.

When I first made this recipe, I didn't have a spaetzle maker, so I improvised. Now I have two different devices, and I also have a food mill and a potato ricer, which can be used to make spaetzle that are more like long noodles (see below). Below, I'll post pictures and sources of various devices-- most are inexpensive.

IF YOU HAVE NEVER MADE THESE BEFORE, SOME VISUALS ARE USEFUL. TAKE A LOOK (These pics are not of vegan spaetzle, but it works the same). The vegan recipe for basic spaetzle is at the end of the post.

Here's a page with pictures of making spaetzle in the "Spaetzle hex" (or "Wizard").

Here's a youtube video of making them with a sliding spaetzle maker.

My spaetzle were little short ones, but this video shows how you can make long noodles with the spaetzle press  (this one makes s-shaped noodles.) You can use a potato ricer instead.

This video
shows you how to make the batter (albeit, an egg batter), the resting process, and using a sliding spaetzle maker, then sauteing the spaetzle, which I didn't do, but it's an option. She also adds chopped herbs to her batter, which is a nice idea.



I didn't have a spaetzle maker the first time I made them, so I used a plastic grater-thingy with round holes that came with my mandolin slicer. I pushed the batter through with the back of a soup spoon:

My first batch of vegan spaetzle, made with my improvised device-- this batch was made with unbleached white flour.

It worked fine, but if you want to do this often, check out these spaetzle makers. (Who knew there would be so many?)

I now have one of these, Nana's spaetzle maker (also called a "pasta maker"):
A metal steamer with similar holes would work as well.)

Canadian source
US Source

It fits over the pot and you scrape the batter through the holes with a bench scraper.

I also have a Norpro Stainless Steel Spaetzle Maker:
US Source
Canadian Source

And, also, there is a: Spaetzle Wizard

And a Spaetzle Pan
A metal steamer with similar holes would work as well.

And, why did I not think of using this ?? (Next time!) A food mill, for heaven's sake! (Use the disc with the largest holes.)

For images of even more spaetzle makers (both commercial and improvised), do a Google image search for "Pinterest spaetzle makers".

This picture is of my wholegrain version of spaetzle:

Printable Recipe

Serves 6
See serving suggestions at the end of the recipe, and see above for information on inexpensive and improvised Spaetzle makers. 

S: "White whole wheat flour" is whole grain flour-- the only difference is the lighter color and milder taste.  If it comes from hard white wheat, it's good for making bread and noodles.  If it comes from soft white wheat, it's a pastry and cake flour.  I have seen a recipe or two using spelt flour, but I haven't tried that yet.

1 1/2 cups nondairy milk of choice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached white or whole wheat flour (can be hard white whole wheat flour)
Tip: You can substitute 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat pastry flour + 1/4 cup semolina flour for the white or regular whole wheat flour
1 cup chickpea flour (besan or channa flour) or full-fat soy flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: freshly-ground black pepper to taste
a large pot of boiling water
Tip: Play around with adding herbs to the batter or using pureed cooked vegetables in place of some of the milk.

Whisk the flours and salt (and optional pepper) together in a small bowl. Pour the milk into a medium bowl and whisk in the flour mixture until smooth. It should be like a thick pancake batter. Beat it until it gets kind of "gluey". This is to develop the gluten. Now, cover it and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

When you are ready to cook the Spaetzle, have the large pot of water boiling and whatever apparatus you are going to use to make the Spaetzle. Place some batter into the receptacle and slide, turn or push the batter through, depending on which kind you are using. As soon as the Spaetzle float to the top, scoop them out with a slotted spoon into a colander and continue until all of your batter is used up.

Serving Suggestions:
The simplest way to serve them is coated with the melted vegan butter or a tasty oil and serve them as-is with a vegan stew or hearty sauce. You can sauté them a little in the vegan butter or oil of your choice. You could let them cool and use them in a casserole, as you might with ordinary pasta. You can bake them with vegan cheese. Let your imagination take flight with these "little sparrows".

I like to combine spaetzle with hearty fall and winter vegetables and fruits, such as apples, pears and root vegetables. There is a German dish that pairs spaetzle with stewed lentils, accompanied by sausages-- have to try a vegan version of that. (Here is a recipe for that dish, which could be made vegan with vegan bacon, vegan sausages, and vegan broth.)

Another I want to try is Swiss Apple Spaetzle.
(Here's a non-vegan recipe for that, but you could make it vegan by using apple juice instead of 1 cup of the non-dairy milk, and vegan butter).

Happy Noodle-Making!


Steffi said...

too funny! I'm from Germany and have never heard of a spaetzle maker. it's a Swabian speciality and there people just scrape the noodles off a chopping board very quickly.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Oh, I've tried that, pavorouge! You must have to learn that at your Omma's knee, because I made a mess of it!!

Lizzie said...

My nana used to make spaetzle, but I've never heard of a spatzle maker either! She would scrape/flick the dough out of the bowl with a spoon right into the water. My mom still has the spoon, though we don't make if often anymore because it would take forever! But, the spoon does have one usefully sharp side on it from all of the spaetzle she used to make.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Lizzie, it's VERY quick with a spaetzle maker!

mamavegana said...

Hi, I am from Germany, too, North-Western though and although this is not "Spätzle country", I got myself one of those sliding Spätzle-makers when I had my first flat.
Now I have one by Tupper (since my metal one didn't agree with my gran's dishwasher when I once made her fresh Spätzles - with eggs, of course, way back then...)

oh, my kids will love you, Bryanna, because we had turned to store-bought eggless Spätzles after going vegan and now I can make us fresh ones again which I was not confident to try without a recipe.

well, I didn' learn how to make them sitting on my Oma's knee, that may explain my eggless Spätzle dilemma ;o)

JohnP said...

You are reading my mind. I have been having spaetzle cravings and I am going to try your new version. And thanks for mentioning the food mill - I have one and will use it for this!

Unknown said...

Your spaetzle looks beautiful. I too have been having longings for the stuff. I'm so happy to see your recipe here. Thanks!

roguewoman said...

Sounds great! My sister-in-law loves spaetzle, but I've never known how to make it vegan (I'm the vegan, not her). And thoughts on how to make it wheat-free? I have a wheat allergy. (No necessarily gluten-free.)

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

roguewoman, I haven't tried these flours, but perhaps with spelt or kamut flour, if you aren't allergic to gluten. Or you could try it with my Gluten-Free High-Fiber Flour Mix, posted on my friend Brenda's website here:

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Made these tonight (I have always done the spoon-and-bowl method because that's how my German/Russian Grandma did it and thus, how I learned) and they were JUST LIKE the ones I grew up on.

Lotti said...

I'm from Hungary, and we have spaetzle makers. All the examples you showed. They are great to make this garnish ready fast.
By the way we call it galuska and est with chicken stew, but can be put into soups (bean soup, etc) to make it richer, and these are just few examples :)

alexis said...

My polish family grew up with my mother tipping a bowl over the boiling water and as the mix just about came out of the bowl she would slice, with a knife, in a downward motion to release it from the bowl and into the water. It was a quick motion that I would be in awe of. My grandmother used the same method. I am not as good but practice makes perfect. It isn't as pretty as some of the pictures I see posted but tasty. I am going to try and buy a spaetzle maker next.

Theresaq said...

Thank you for the whole wheat recipe. I have one using white flour. But it seems you use alot more liquid: the other recipe calls for two cups flour and only 3/4 cup water: you are pretty much using 1:1 water and flour. It sounds like it might come out too liquid-y. Does it? Thanks in advance!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Unknown,perhaps the recipe you are referring to is suitable for the kind that you slice from dough off of a chopping board, as several commenters mentioned above. My dough works well with a device that runs through little holes.