I had some leftover green beans from Thanksgiving, so last night I decided to try my hand at something that I always loved as a kid: greenbeans and spaetzle. Of course, the ones I loved as a kid were the frozen Birds-Eye variety, so I figured I could do better than that. If you’ve never had spaetzle, they are little tiny noodles/dumplings made by dropping little bits of batter into boiling water. Mine came out a little larger than pea-sized, and tasting basically like egg noodles.
I also had some leftover ham, so I decided to work that in too. I cubed some of the ham and sauteed in in some butter in a heavy pan. Meanwhile, I blanched the greenbeans for 3 minutes in boiling water, then took them out and ran cold water over them. The recipe for the spaetzle came from Jeff Smith’s “Our Immigrant Ancestors” which is a great cookbook with a smattering of dishes from all over the world.
The spaetzle started with 2 eggs, 2 T. of olive oil, and 1/2 cup each of water and milk. Blend that up (I used a hand blender with a whisk attachment on it) and then add 2 – 2 1/2 cups of white flour, 1/2 t. of salt, and 1/4 t. of baking powder. You end up with something like thick pancake batter. Now comes the tricky part if you don’t have the right equipment. I have a groovy little spaetzle maker I got from Lehman’s that makes it super easy. If you don’t have one of those, I’ve also used a metal colander (messy) or a big potato ricer (hard to get them even). If you don’t have a special tool, the colander is probaby your best bet. Put a couple big scoops of the batter in the bottom of a colander while holding it over a pot of boiling, salted water. Then rub the spoon around the inside of the colander (use the back of the spoon) to get the little balls to drop through. When the spaetzle float, they’re done.
I added the spaetzle and greenbeans to the ham, and brought everything up to temperature. Salt and pepper to taste. It was quite the hit. My daughter even ate the greenbeans, despite their green-ness.