Ain’t no party like a spaetzle party ’cause a spaetzle party don’t stop!
I was talking about food with my Aunt Mary when I visited her last week, and she mentioned how she had recently bought spaetzle at her local Aldi supermarket. Spaetzle, a type of German egg noodle, is something I’ve eaten at German restaurants a couple times, but I had never seen it in the store. So Mary pulled the package out of her pantry and said “take it! It’s yours.”
Sometimes spaetzkle is shaped into little dumplings, but this package was the noodle variety. It’s often eaten as a side dish with butter and cheese, or included in heartier dishes, like stews. I’ve loved it every time I’ve eaten it (but, really, how can you go wrong with noodles, butter, and cheese?), but I wanted to try to create a slightly healthier application. Here’s what I came up with:
Chicken and Veggie Spaetzle
Spaetzle is cooked, like other pastas, by boiling it. So I started heating a pot of water. While I waited for it to boil, I did some chopping.
I was still staying with my sister in Chicago, and this was a toss-in-whatever’s-in-the-fridge type situation. This had one yellow squash, about ten cherry tomatoes (halved), three slices of salami, julienned, and one piece of leftover chicken breast (pre-cooked) – although you can use whatever you have lying around.
Once the water started boiling, I threw in some spaetzle. It takes about 12 minutes to cook, and while that was happening, I started sauteing the above ingredients, along with 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, in a big skillet slicked with butter-flavored Pam.
For some added flavor, I added a little black pepper and a generous sprinkling of dried Herbes de Provence to the skillet.
The veggies were cooked by the time the spaeztle was finished, so I drained the spaetzle, and added it into the skillet. I also added about 1/2 cup of the pot water, to add some liquid (full disclosure: this was my sister’s idea. “I see them do this on Chopped!”). Then I folded everything together, along with about two ounces of crumbled sharp English cheddar.
Then I stirred it around a few more times to incorporate the cheese, and then… TIME TO EAT!
The spaetzle was soft but still had a little bite. The veggies were fantastic. The little bit of salami added some complexity. The Herbes de Provence brightened everything up. (I gotta get some Herbes de Provence at home!) The whole dish was satisfying. And filling!
I should add that spaetzle isn’t a low-calorie food. A serving has 230 calories and 41 grams of carbs. (On the plus side, there’s only 2 grams of fat and hardly any sodium.) In all honesty, I probably ate 3 servings of spaetzle, because this dish was so good. But, like I said at the beginning, this isn’t something I eat very often, and at least this very is healthier than the butter-and-cheese versions in restaurants, thanks to the reduction and elimination of cheese and butter, and the addition of nutrients and protein from the veggies and chicken. It’s a better-for-you alternative, and to quote Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing.
Keep it up, David!