I've written before about my burgeoning love of German food, so it should be no surprise that Spätzle/Spaetzle was become a popular dinner in the Cleaver household.
I'll admit that I've yet to find a way of making Spätzle that doesn't make a huge mess (the noodle dough is super sticky!), but I find the end result worth it. The recipe makes a generous amount of noodles (four adult-sized portions) and can be easily doubled.
Not in garlic scape season? Try substituting in chives, wild garlic leaves, spring/baby garlic or basically anything in the edible allium family like scallions, shallots, or leeks. No fresh asparagus around? Substitute with frozen*, or try green beans, sugar or snow peas, broccoli stems - anything green with a snap.
*Frozen veggies beat out of season veggies any day in my book.
Garlic Scape Pesto and Asparagus Summer Spätzle
This bright and delicious combination of German-style spätzle noodles, asparagus, and fresh pesto stands as a light summer meal on its own, or pairs beautifully with sausage, chicken or pork (especially Schnitzel!) for a heartier meal.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- pinch of salt
Garlic Scape Pesto
- 6-8 garlic scapes
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus some for the pan
- salt to taste
Note: The pesto can be made in advance, if desired.
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces, (about 2-2.5 cups)
Note: There are several methods to "pressing" Spätzle into it's shape. There's a Spätzle press if you have one (I don't). You can also use a potato ricer on the largest holes, "cutting" it from a board, squeezing it from a bag, or my most frequently used method, using a spatula to press it through a large-holed colander.
On/next to your stovetop, prepare the following: a large pot of water set to a rolling boil, a large frying pan oiled with approximately a 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (don't heat it yet), and a large bowl filled with ice water.
Make dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine dough ingredients and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Make pesto (can be done in advance and refrigerated): In food processor, combine scapes and walnuts, pulsing until finely chopped. Add cheese and pulse to mix. Slowly add olive oil until desired consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste.
Using the method of your choice, press dough into the pot of boiling water in batches. Once the noodles begin to float (about 2 minutes) removed with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water. Make the rest of the noodles in the same fashion. Drain the noodles.
Heat frying pan. If using frozen vegetables, saute them lightly first, then add the drained noodles. If using fresh vegetables, add both noodles and vegetables to the frying pan at the same time. Fry the noodles until golden brown, adding extra oil if it starts sticking to pan. Add the pesto and mix until well distributed. Remove from heat and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with additional shredded cheese.
Garlic Scape Pesto and Asparagus Summer SpatzleServes 4 Ingredients: 2 cups flour 4 eggs 1/2 cup milk salt to taste 6-8 garlic scapes 1/4 cup walnuts 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 1/4 cup olive oil 1 bunch asparagus
Over the course of this year's experiment I got a lot of questions about it from people, mostly the real vegetarians in my life, so while I don't really have any new photos for this post, I do have a Vegetarian Q&A.
Q: Did you miss meat?
A: Yes and no. No, in that I never at any point was craving meat, as in "man, I need a burger," but I did miss it when substitutions were less tasty to me. Like my attempt at making falafel was less successful than my ability to make chicken gyros, or when my substitution of veggie stock in risotto made for a very odd tasting meal. But in other cases, the vegetarian option was just as good or better (like restaurant-made falafel). I also missed meat when some restaurants had a limited/poor selection of vegetarian options (Ri-Ras, I'm looking at you!)
Q: Did you feel better/healthier?
A: I didn't feel better, or less sluggish or anything physically, but mentally I did feel that I was introducing better food choices into my world.
Q: What was the hardest part?
A: Cooking without a doubt. I'm not a great and/or particularly enthusiastic cook to begin with, so there's that. But mostly when I started this whole thing I didn't have a much of a vegetarian cooking repertoire. So there was a big shift in having to change the way I grocery shop, and find recipes, and trying out 2-3 new recipes a week, with mixed results. Though I wouldn't say my repertoire is huge now (I had more failures than successes methinks), but I do have more options, as well as an ever expanding Pinterest board of recipes to try and an expanding feed-reader full of vegetarian cooking blogs, so I expect that to continue to grow. I did find that when all else fails, make a pizza.
Q: What was the best part?
A: Discovering new foods. I'm particularly a fan of quinoa now, which I'd never had before, and I forgot how much I like spinach. I like veggie-burgers. And I'm surprised at the number of recipes that called for parsley, which I had always thought of more as a garnish, but no more! It also made me look beyond the same old some old at the grocery store and on menus. I could still expand my range of vegetables though.
Q: Would you consider staying a vegetarian/doing it again?
A: I don't think that I will permanently be a vegetarian, I like keeping my options open, and for me, it's about health more than any moral imperative. But I would like to continue to incorporate more vegetarian eating into my diet going forward.
Q: Any favorite recipes?
A: Yep! Here's a few I'm definitely be making again (or already have):
There's also a few improvisations, like the aforementioned pizzas and some veggie masala that was quite tasty.
There you have it!
The light in the evening is coming back in spades theses day, for which this California transplant is grateful. It makes me feel so much for active and productive in the evenings, which is great, because it's been a busy week and it's going to be a busy spring.
Because with all the bright happy sunniness of spring comes new responsibility - probably a day a late and a dollar short, but I've started thinking about all the stuff I need to do to get vegetable garden in the ground this year, not to mention spring cleaning, repainting the peeling deck, and all that sewing I want to do as soon as it starts getting warmer.
But for today, I'm taking it easy (as much as that's possible on a work day) and not worrying about all the work that's to come.
Deep breaths, and one day at a time.
All photos of Barley Herb Salad from Martha Stewart Living. Which is totally delicious, especially if you add extra mustard.
(to borrow from Soulemama) Right Now I'm...
- nearly a month into this Lent thing and trying out a new recipe or two a week;
- two buttons bands away from finishing up a new design sample;
- into running again, signed up for a 5k and everything;
- enjoying the increasing hours of daylight;
- loving the unseasonably warm March weather we're having; and
- obsessing over a new music find: darlingside
What are you up to?
Mr. Cleaver and I tried quinoa for the first time this morning, we used the Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe from Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine via 101 Cookbooks and it was definitely tasty and filling. I'm looking forward to trying quinoa in more savory and salad dishes too.
In other news, it looks like spring is finally making it's way to Maine!
While I failed at my last cookie baking attempt, I've had a bit more luck in the vegetarian cooking department. First off I wanted to thank everyone for their recipe suggestions, I'm still looking through some of the ones posted last week, but there are several I can't wait to try - keep 'em coming!
Two things I've learned quickly, chickpeas (and beans in general) are my veggie-cooking friends and that taking pictures of food in my kitchen lighting at night is less than ideal.
Also, not specifically related to the vegetarian-eating thing, but banana and nutella on toast may be my new favorite breakfast.
Recipes used this week:
- Chilaquiles vegetarianos! (first photo). I'd definitely make this one again. It was delicious, it reheated well and I'm a sucker for avocados.
- Baked falafel (second photo). This one I'm a little less enthused by, the falafel seemed bit too mushy, but it could be because I under baked it or that I'm just more used to the fried version.
Also made (not-photograghed) Chana Masala, which I improvised with a bunch of veggies, chickpeas and a jar of Masala sauce from Trader Joes.
This year I'm doing something a bit more traditional and giving up meat (with the usual fish on Fridays exeception, because Mr. Cleaver really likes seafood).
Yep - I'm going vegetarian!
It's a veggiesaurus Lex, veggiesaurus! -Jurassic Park
I tend to pick my Lent challenges months in advance and my decision to go veggie is part of the reason I declared 2012 a Year in Food/conscious eating.(The other is that I have high hopes for an edible garden this year).
One of my greatest conscious eating successes so far this year has been the daily addition of fruit, but veggies, particularly those outside the "intro veggie" range (peas, broccoli, lettuce, etc.), are harder for me, so what better way to to expand and explore than to go vegetarian.
All-in I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. (In any case, it'll be warmer than giving up pants).
I've started a folder (and a Pinterest Board) of some recipes I'm going to try, but if you have some favorite recipe links or vegetarian cooking blogs to share, I'd love to check them out. So fill up the comments with suggestions!