Friday, April 8, 2011

Mustard Spaetzle with Spinach and Sweet Onions

Photo by Sergio Salvador  www.salvadorphoto.com
Early spring is the most difficult time to find fresh local produce, because the fruits and veggies that keep well through the winter are starting to run out, and it's still too cold for gardening. But spinach, one of the most cold-hardy vegetables there is, can overwinter even in subzero temperatures if planted in fall and well mulched. Or it can be planted in spring, as soon soil temperatures reach 35°F!

I often have trouble thinking of specific recipes for spinach, simply because it's so versatile – you can add it to just about anything for a touch of earthiness and a blast of vitamins and minerals. But mustard and sweet onions really complement its flavor. Spaetzle are tiny dumplings with a noodle-like texture, in this case flavored with mustard. This makes a lovely side dish, or you can add some leftover roast chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and/or pancetta to make it a filling main dish. This recipe is adapted from one posted to Food 52's “Your Best Spinach” contest, by blogger Christine of www.remakingchristine.com.

2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (not whole wheat)
2 T. milk
2 T. Dijon mustard
¼ t. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 large sweet or red onion
A handful of chopped bacon or pancetta (optional)
½ pound cooked chicken and/or mushrooms (optional)
½ pound spinach

Boil a large pot of salted water. Whisk the eggs, flour, milk, mustard and salt in a small bowl. To make the spaetzle, push the batter through the holes of a colander (you need one with very large holes, at least ¼ inch) into the boiling water. Or just push small lumps of batter off the edge of a spoon. They're done when they float to the surface. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet on medium flame. Add the bacon or pancetta (if using) and brown. Add onions and cook for a few minutes, until translucent and soft but not browned. If using mushrooms, push the onions to the side and brown the mushrooms. Add the chicken, if desired, and just heat it through. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Add the spaetzle, toss to coat with oil, and cook until they get a bit crispy in spots.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main dish.
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