Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Enjoy a healthy twist on an authentic German dish  with this delicious homemade whole wheat spaetzle. Perfect with vegetables for a vegetarian dish or served alongside bratwurst and sauerkraut for a German style dinner. 

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

After two months of living in the greater Seattle area, I have most definitely confirmed that my spirit city is Seattle. I love living near the ocean and the mountains, not to mention that the temperate weather makes me deliriously happy. I’ll take all the overcast skies if it means no blazing hot summer days or feet of snow piling up in winter.

But if I had a spirit country? That would be Germany. I adore Germany, from Hamburg to Munich to Stuttgart. If it wasn’t so expensive and we had more vacation time, I would have Ryan and I take annual trips there. I spent a semester studying abroad in college there and I hold such fond memories of the scenery, architecture, culture, food, and festivals.

I studied abroad in Reutlingen, a small city in Baden-Wurttemberg (also known as Schwabenland, or Swabia in English). For reference, this is the same region of Germany where wineries abound and the Black Forest looms. I could see the Swabian Albs (a small alps range) from the window of my dorm room. Considering the rest of my undergraduate years were spent in the pancake flat Midwest, this was a geographic paradise to me.

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Baden-Wurttemberg is like the PNW of Germany. There’s mountains, waterfalls, beautiful bodies of water, and cool temperatures. You can pull a total Thoreau for a day and just escape into nature, only to be back in time for work or class on Monday. It was also a hop, skip, and a train ride from Switzerland and Lake Constance, so you even avoided that land-locked sensation you can get in some parts of Europe.

Does anyone else hate being land-locked? I’ve always lived near water: Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and now the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Even little old Dayton, Ohio had a few major rivers.

Even better than the scenery was the food. The food in Swabia was simply delectable. I probably gained five pounds when I studied abroad because of how amazing the German food was (and, well, I was 21 years old and in Germany for a semester of no academic pressure, so, you know, German beer). German bratwurst ended my attempt at eating a vegetarian, or at least no red meat, diet. I snacked on German pretzels and grainy breads and developed a palate for unpasteurized beer. (Which, by the way, I have found unpasteurized beer sold here in Washington, from Deschutes Brewery. It’s got probiotics in it so I consider it a health food). When Christmas time rolled around (which starts in mid-November, Germans take Christmas very seriously), I warmed my always cold self up with hot mugs of Gluhwein and handfuls of roasted nuts.

And spaetzle? Hands down, one of the best German foods. Spaetzle is a popular Swabian dish that is something between a dumpling and a noodle. Imagine making pasta but cooking gnocchi, if that makes sense. Spaetzle is a fluffy noodle that is boiled. Originally, back before the invention of modern spaetzle makers, cooks would use spoons to roll into long, thin noodles. They thought these noodles resembled sparrows, hence the name (spaetzle is German for “little sparrow”). Whole wheat spaetzle requires just a few staple ingredients and, while it can be time-consuming to make, is well worth the effort. Plus, it easily reheats, so you can make a big batch and enjoy it throughout the week!

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Spaetzle is traditionally made with flour, so I put a healthy twist on it and made 100% whole wheat spaetzle. I personally prefer Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour, which is never too heavy as to make an overly dense and flat food.  After all, you want your spaetzle noodles to be fluffy and light, not dense and sad. 

I used a spaetzle maker (Kuchenprofi 18/10 Stainless Steel Spaetzle Plane with Pusher), but you can make spaetzle without a special device. You simply put the batter into a colander and push it through the holes and—ta da—perfectly little spaetzles. Either way, you’re going to get a fantastic arm workout from making this, but, as I said, it’s so worth it once you have a plate of fluffy and pillow-soft little spaetzles to enjoy.

Plus, the arm workout totally means you can enjoy a guilt-free beer with this meal. Or two. If you’re feeling really authentic, try an Oktoberfest, Bitburger (or any Pilsner), or a Kolsch.

Since this whole wheat spaetzle is a vegetarian dish, it lends itself well to a meatless meal. Saute some mushrooms and shallots in butter for a hearty and healthy meal.

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Or, if you really want a good German, pair the whole wheat spaetzle with some sauerkraut and bratwurst. Bonus points if you add a grainy mustard!

Whole Wheat Spaetzle

Laura Norris
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2-2/3 cup milk begin with 1/2 and add as needed*
  • 1-2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or parsley optional

Instructions
 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, nutmeg, and salt. Crack the eggs into a smaller bowl, whisk, and then add to the mixer bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add in the milk, stir to combine, then use a dough hook to knead for 18-20 minutes, until you have a soft, batter-like dough.
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water (at least 1 quart) to a boil over the stove. Reduce the a strong simmer.
  • Use the spaetzle maker or push the dough through a colander with a wooden spoon to create the noodles and press them into the the water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the noodles rise to the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove and transfer to a clean colander or bowl. If needed, cook in batches (which is what I usually do).
  • Heat the butter in a pan. Add the noodles and lightly cooked for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
  • You can store the noodles in the fridge for three days and easily reheat on the stove.

Notes

*Although I personally used cow's milk and the traditional recipe calls for cow's milk, you can substitute water or non-dairy milk such as almond milk instead.
 Since spaetzle makes a great base for a healthy and satisfying meatless meal, I’ll be linking up with Tina Muir and Confessions of a Mother Runner for Meatless Monday. Check out my recipe and other meatless recipes there!

Meatless Monday

 

[Tweet “Enjoy a healthy twist on an authentic German dish with this #vegetarian friendly whole wheat spaetzle from @thisrunrecipes #fitfluential”]

Questions of the Day:
Have you ever had German food? What was your favorite dish?
Did you study abroad or live in a foreign country?
What’s the weirdest kitchen tool you own? —> Probably my spaetzle maker.

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Whole Wheat Spaetzle
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24 Responses

      1. I will try with wheat flour since I am now a diabetic and haven’t made spaeztle since. It’s great with roast pork, rouladen, and chicken paprikash. My Austrian grandmother Emily Zipek Weber (family from Austrian/Hungary border, hence the paprikash) taught me the old fashioned way, and no measuring of the flour. 2 beaten eggs, a palmful of salt, stir in 1 cup of the water from the pot that’s boiling. Then just start adding scoops of flour until while firmly stirring and folding, the dough makes a bubble. (much better for building arm muscles than using a machine) Then put dough on a bread board, using butter knife lean the board on an angle and cut small strips off the edge of the board (or can do from the edge of the bowl) into the boiling water. As soon as that’s complete pour them into a large colander. Put into a bowl and add some butter to stop them from sticking together. Any meat gravy works well or butter well and fry them in a pan until outside is crispy. Using 2 eggs and 1 cup of water, thickened with flour is enough to serve 6 as a side dish. If you want more eggy you can use more eggs. But I like it as described. I think my grandmother enjoyed teaching me so I could take over the noodle cutting. When I started a family I purchased the same press you use. My mother uses a churn type.
        I look forward to making your diabetic appropriate whole wheat spaeztle!

  1. Whoa. I’ve never had German food but this is making me want to try it ASAP! I own an ice cream maker which is super random, especially because I never use it because it is the BIGGEST pain to clean. And I lived in Sweden for a while which was absolutely awesome.

    1. You should change that ASAP and make this! Sweden sounds so beautiful, I desperately wanted to visit there when I was abroad but there just wasn’t enough time.

  2. You have no idea how excited I just got when I saw this!! I LOVE spaetzle but rarely eat it because it isn’t exactly the healthiest food. I have an amazing chicken spaetzle stew recipe.. can’t wait for it to cool off outside so I can make it with these 🙂

  3. My ex husband is German and we ate a LOT of German food but I’ve never tried spaetzle! I wonder why? I feel cheated! Ha ha. I don’t know how to spell all the food we ate but we’d eat a lot of farmer sausage and watermelon and these deep fried things and plattz (sp? it’s like a sheet of pie). Germans know their food!

    1. German spellings always through me off (German was such a hard language to study!), so I’m the same. German really do know their food – platzen and stollen are also so good!

  4. I have heard of this before but have never had myself. I grew up with my mom making homemade German sauerkraut. It is delicious and a must have when grilling brats. The weirdest kitchen tool I have is a corn on the cob cutter. Works well though!

  5. I love the idea of using a collander to make spaetzle. Very economical! I’ve only made my own pasta once, and while it was more work than just dumping a box in boiling water, I could definitely taste the difference!

  6. Awesome recipe pretty lady! I love adding a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon to my meals, gives it that extra kick….but not in the spicy hot way! Thanks for sharing with us, this will power you through marathon training 🙂

  7. This is the first recipe I’ve ever seen which recommends a kneaded dough. I tried it, but there wasn’t nearly enough milk or eggs to balance the flour, leaving me with a dough unlike any spaetzle I’ve ever seen. It was far too thick to save by adding more milk after I had used the mixer to knead it. In the end I threw it all out and went with a recipe I’ve used in the past: http://www.food.com/recipe/whole-wheat-spaetzle-374650

    I’m curious: where did you find this recipe and how many times did you try it before posting this?

    1. I’m sorry to hear that the recipe did not work out for you. Several factors including elevation, humidity, temperature, etc can affect doughs and batters so there is sometimes a need to adjust the milk/water content beyond what the recipe says. I tested this recipe at least three times before sharing (in the summer when it was more humid which could have affected it) and I believe I adapted it from a Bavarian cooking website.

  8. This was the first time I made spaetzle and the dough after the dough hook in the stand mixer was practically the consistency of pasta dough. There was no way I was able to push that through a colander so I rolled out and cut like I would gnocchi. Did not turn out well. Would love to know where I went wrong.

    1. Hi Michelle, I am sorry to hear that happened! Dough like this can be sensitive to temperature and humidity. I made the recipe in summer when it was warmer, which means less water is needed I imagine that in winter, more water will be needed for this dough (since cold temperatures dry dough out), so I recommended adding more water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a thick pancake-like batter.

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