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A family recipe for homemade spaetzle (a type of popular German pasta/dumplings) with a lentil sauce.
To make the lentil sauce:
1. Rinse and sort the lentils. (Get rid of the bad ones!) If they are old, soak them overnight.
2. Put the lentils and 2 quarts of water in a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Simmer them until tender, about 35 minutes or more, depending on the age of the lentils. Add the bouillon cubes. Don’t let the lentils burn or stick. Add more water if necessary. They will eventually form a sauce and thicken (the excess water will boil off).
3. As the lentils finish cooking, saute the onion in the butter until it is tender. Then add the flour and and cook and stir until the mixture just begins to brown. Add the cold water to the onion mixture, and cook and stir until smooth. Add the onion mixture, salt, and black pepper to the lentils. Simmer for 5 minutes and then serve over spaetzle.
(1) Add bacon ends or pieces to the cooking lentils (make sure to reduce the amount of salt and omit the butter, as the bacon will provide both extra salt and fat).
(2) Add ham or sliced German wurst to the cooked lentils.
Note: the completed lentil sauce freezes very well, or you can just freeze the cooked lentils and complete the sauce when you’re ready. This is a good make-ahead dish and in fact tastes better the second day. Leftovers can be added to soups and stews.
To make the spaetzle:
1. Add the all-purpose flour, eggs, water, and salt to a mixing bowl and beat thoroughly, adding more water or flour to get a sticky, elastic dough. This has to be done by hand with a wooden spoon unless you have a dough hook on your mixer.
2. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add a little oil or butter to the water to help cut down on foam and to prevent the spaetzle from sticking together. Squeeze the dough in batches through a spaetzle maker into the boiling water. You can cook two batches at a time. Be sure to stir the noodles as soon as you have added them to the water so they don’t stick together. Return the water to a boil and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the spaetzle floats to the top of the water. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the spaetzle onto a platter. Continue until all the dough is used up. (You can reuse the cooking water until it is too foamy.) Serve with lentils.
It’s very tiring to beat the dough, especially if you get it too stiff. Don’t chill the dough, or you’ll never be able to get it through the spaetzle maker. Spaetzle can be made in quantity, frozen, and reheated in the microwave. Leftovers are great in chicken soup or fried in butter (the latter is the authentic German leftover treatment).
Be sure to soak the spaetzle maker in the sink as soon as you are done with it. It’s a beast to clean otherwise. To make the job easier, try spraying the inside with cooking spray before you start.
To make spaetzle using a colander: place a colander over your pot of boiling water, pour about 1/4 of the batter into the colander, and press through the holes with a plastic spatula into the water.
Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!