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Monday, April 2, 2012

Gluten Free Spaetzle

Gluten Free Spaetzle with Sauteed Collard Greens
German Spaetzle for a Gluten Free Easter Dinner
a.k.a. Gluten Free Pasta Noodles


Spaetzle, meaning "little sparrow," is a type of German egg noodle.  It isn't quite the same as a pasta noodle, although it'll do in a pinch to substitute for them.  If you have the right sort of equipment, and most people do, it's surprisingly easy and quick to make.  My German Omi (grandma) frequently made spaetzle when I was a kid and while I can't say with any assurance that spaetzle is a traditional Easter dish, it's one that I'm incorporating into this year's Gluten Free German themed Easter dinner.  Like last week's Easter dish, Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls (holopchi), spaetzle is like comfort food for me.

I went off in search of a gluten free spaetzle recipe and lo and behold, I found one!  More than one in fact.  However, most of them simply replaced the regular flour in the spaetzle recipe with a prepackaged flour mix.  First let me say I have no problems with pre-packaged gluten free flour mixes.  For most people, they are a great alternative, as they can be used as a 1-1 replacement for flour in recipes, thereby eliminating the stress of struggling with gf flours.  However, they can be are more expensive than buying single flours, and if a recipe calls for one type of mix and you have another, well, this can be a problem, as some mixes have yeast in them and others don't = no rise to your bread or pizza crust if using the wrong one.  So I don't bother with them.

Anyway, I did try one gluten free spaetzle that I found here and it turned out ok, very soft and tasty, but I found that the spaetzle was really sticky, and stuck to each other in clumps.  Since the dough mainly consisted of starches, I thought that the second time around I would cut way back on the starches and use brown rice flour for a bit more fibre and nutrition.  While spaetzle is traditionally boiled, then fried in butter and smothered in onions and gravy, I decided to give it healthy fusion update.  I know, German cuisine is not like Asian or Indian, you don't often see "German fusion" in fancy restaurants, but, like with the Vegetable Cabbage rolls, I'm determined to make my old favorites in a healthy veggie version.  So I skipped the frying and covered it with collard greens sauteed in butter with garlic and lemon juice.  Of course, if you miss traditional spaetzle, you could certainly serve it with gravy and onions and lots of cheese!

Tapioca Flour and Glutinous Rice Flour
This recipe calls for glutinous rice flour, (aka sweet rice flour) which does not contain gluten and is not actually sweet.  It is called this because it is made of glutinous rice, which just means that it is sticky, like gluten.  You can usually find this in the Asian section of a market, or at Asian markets.  It's very cheap.  Incidentally, you can often find tapioca starch and white rice flour very cheap in the Asian section, or Asian market as well. 

Ingredients:

1/4 c potato starch OR tapioca starch (or corn starch, it's cheaper I'm off cornstarch until I can find a GMO-free brand locally)*
1c + 1Tbsp brown or white rice flour ( I ground my own)
1/4 c sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour)
1/2c tapioca flour / starch
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c water + more as needed

Directions:

1. Sift dry ingredients together.  Mix in the 2 eggs.

 2. Slowly add the water and mix with a fork until the paste is able to form ribbons.  Add more water as needed.  The dough should be thinner than bread dough, but thicker than pancake batter.
 3. Bring a few inches worth of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 Tbsp oil  and a few shakes of salt. 

 4. There are a few ways to add the spaetzle to the water: 

a)  use a spaetzle cutter (these are available for about $10 on Amazon)

       b) place a large-holed colander over the pot of water and, using a spatula, press the batter through the holes in to the boiling water – do this in batches, or work quickly as the batter on the bottom of the hot colander will start to cook onto the colander. Also, make sure there is enough water in the pot so that the spaetzle doesn't pile up on itself and clump up.

       c) Add about 1/3 of the batter on to a cutting board and, using a knife or spatula, slide thin ribbons of batter off the board in to the boiling water.

5. Boil for approximately 2-3 minutes, until all the batter floats.  Strain with a slotted spoon or hand held strainer and mix with a small amount of butter, or oil, to prevent sticking. 

Sauteed Collard Greens

Ingredients:

1 bunch  collard greens, washed, with the hard stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp butter or margarine or olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated or chopped fine
1/2 tsp salt
Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat the butter or oil over low-medium heat until melted.  Add collard greens and saute until they begin to wilt and turn bright green.

2. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add garlic and salt.  Saute for another minute and remove from heat.  Stop sauteing before the greens begin to turn brown.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve over spaetzle. 

I hope you enjoy my "German Fusion" Easter dish, which can, of course, be served any time of the year! 

*OAS Info: While this recipe is free of the most common OAS foods, it does contain potato starch.  I am unsure if this could cause a reaction, particularly since the flour is boiled.  However, if in doubt, sub corn starch instead of potato starch.

This recipe is linked to the following fantastic sites:

AllergyFreeWednesdaysGluten Free Meal Plan via Musings of a Housewife Monday Meals


Meatless Mondays on My Sweet and Savory, Just Another Meatless Monday on Hey, What's for Dinner Mom?, Gluten Free Wednesdays on The Gluten Free Homemaker, Allergy Free Wednesdays on Tessa Domestic Diva

14 comments:

  1. Okay...you had me definitely hooked up until I saw 'eggs'. I need a substitute. Would Tofu work? Let me know what you think and I'll give it a try :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mary,

      I'm not positive, I haven't tried it. I usually try to cut out eggs whenever I can (I substitute 1Tbsp ground flax mixed with 3Tbsp water for each egg) but with spaetzle I don't know how that will affect the stickiness of the boiled noodles. I just googled egg-free spaetzle and found one recommendation for using Ener-G or another type of egg replacement (I've never used Ener-G myself so I can't say for sure how it will work), while another just used corn flour. You could probably get away with increasing the sweet rice flour, or potato starch, by about 1/4c to replace the eggs. The point is to get a sticky, slightly runny batter.

      Now you've got me thinking about trying it though. Give me a couple a couple of weeks and I'll probably attempt a gluten free, egg free version!

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  2. I grew up on spaetzle with AP flour. That was before, I was cooking for someone with celiac. I loved it and was happy whenever my Mom made it. I made Tyler Francis's recipe, a number of years ago and that was also delicious.

    Now, I have to try this so my husband can have this treat. Thanks for sharing this with us at My Meatless Mondays.

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    1. Thanks for hosting again, and stopping by to comment! I served this last night to 3 people who all eat gluten (one of whom is also German and is familiar with spaetzle), and it went over well so you and your husband might enjoy this version too :)

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  3. How fancy!! I love your spirit...who needs gluten anyways?! Thanks for sharing with us on Allergy Free Wednesdays!

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    1. Darn tootin'. Well, ok, I do miss a good bagel now and then, and the ability to just try anything in a restaurant... but on the bright side it's opened up a world of new foods for me! Thanks for hosting AFW :)

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  4. I love collards, so I'm going to HAVE to try this!

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    1. I have to confess I've only recently discovered them, but am so glad I did!! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you had a wonderful trip with your family, I saw your photos and hope the crowds didn't wear you down too much :)

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  5. These were wonderful! I'd made spaetzle before going GF and was so pleased to find this recipe. I got lazy and ended up just forming them into little dumplings (using two spoons) rather than pushing them through the colander. They reminded us of gnocchi.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm glad you liked them :) Over the years I've also found that recipes for pasta, pirogi, dumplings, gnocchi and ravioli are all pretty similar - I'm beginning to think it's just what you serve them with that makes the difference ;p

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  6. Thank you so much for this recipe! I visit Germany for work annually, and my friends there always make spaetzle for me. So I have the press, and my family loves when I make them. Since my son was diagnosed with Celiac's about 3-4 years ago I have tried many recipes. Yours has the best texture yet, which I think is half the battle, and the flavor is very good. I did not have the sweet rice flour, so substituted sweet sorghum flour. Perfect. I think I will use this recipe for his GF pasta tomorrow for our annual Italian Holiday feast!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! I'm so glad you like the recipe, and good to know that the sorghum works instead of the sweet rice flour :)

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  7. These are so so so so so so tasty! Thank you!! Did you try it with the cornstarch? I used potato starch, because I have a largeish bag of it, but I have a friend allergic to potato and wanted to know if it comes out just as well?

    Laura

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Yes, I've done it with both and haven't had a problem.

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