This is an updated healthier version of a German classic pasta: stinging nettle adds a pop of color to easy-to-make spaetzle!
Have you ever heard of spaetzle? They are tiny little German dumplings. To make them a bit more interesting, I am adding stinging nettle to the spaetzle dough.
In the spring, stinging nettle spaetzle actually makes a regular appearance on our table. In fact, if we can get them later in the year, I make them more often!
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Health Benefits of Stinging Nettles
Unfortunately, many people consider stinging nettles to be a weed. One that needs to be eradicated. Hopefully, you’ll come to love stinging nettles just as much as we do!
Stinging nettles need to be handled with care. They sting! If you have been stung by nettles before, you know what I am talking about. Even though they are completely harmless, it is very uncomfortable!
So, handle them with gloves and/or tongs!
We love stinging nettles for their delicate, green taste. In fact, they can be prepared much like spinach. However, stinging nettles are very healthy! They are high in vitamin A. They have more protein than kale and are off the charts high in calcium.
Detoxifying and anti-inflammatory, the stinging nettle really is a superfood!
I also think that it’s a great idea to add more variety to our meals by including less common vegetables such as stinging nettles.
We love to drink nettle tea, and eat stinging nettles just like spinach, made into a pesto, or in spaetzle!
What are Spaetzle?
Spaetzle (or more correctly spelled: “Spätzle”) are German tiny little dumplings. They are made from flour.
While the most common spaetzle recipe is serving them with caramelized onions and cheese, there are so many different ways to prepare and serve them.
In previous times, people would spread their spaetzle dough on a wooden cutting board. They would then “shave” long skinny strips of that dough into boiling water.
These days, there are various tools you can use. I like using a spaetzle maker. It fits right on top of a pot, has holes on the bottom, and a “feeding square” that you simply push back and forth. There are spaetzle presses that are similar to what you use to make mashed potatoes.
If you don’t have a spaetzle maker and are not ready to invest in one, you can always use a colander with big holes. Your spaetzle might be a bit tinier but still delicious.
Ingredients for Stinging Nettle Spaetzle
The basic recipe for making stinging nettle spaetzle is
- 3 cups flour (I am using spelt flour)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup steamed or blanched stinging nettles
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
When I say basic, I mean that that is a good starting point. I like to cook from feel and often scale a recipe up or down. I just know what consistency I am looking for when I make spaetzle. You’ll find a printable recipe at the end of this post!
Helpful tools for making Spaetzle
You can make spaetzle without any special items but I find these very helpful:
- steamer basket (such as this one)
- spaetzle maker (I like this one, this is another version, or this one)
- blender or handheld mixer or whisk
How to make stinging nettle spaetzle
Prepare the dough
First, you need to steam or blanch the stinging nettles. Using gloves or tongs, place a good amount of nettles into either boiling water or into a steamer basket over boiling water. With the lid, boil or steam for about 1 minute. When done, the nettles should be soft and sunken in quite a bit. At this point, they no longer sting and you can touch them with your hands.
Then you place them into a blender with the remaining ingredients. If you are not using a blender, you can finely chop up the nettles. Just add the remaining ingredients and mix with a whisk or handheld mixer.
Since I don’t always use super exact measurements, I now look at the consistency of the dough. I want it to be very thick but still runny (think thick pancake batter). If it’s too thick, just add more milk. If it’s too runny, add more flour. You can also add more milk or flour after a first test batch.
Cook the spaetzle
In a big pot bring water to a boil. I like to add a bit of salt to the water, too.
If you’re using a spaetzle maker, pour the dough into the square and just push that back and forth. The spaetzle will fall into the boiling water.
If you’re using a colander, simply push the dough through the holes into the boiling water.
Boil them until they are floating on the surface. This will only take a few minutes.
Take them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon. You can place them into a bowl. I like to put them into a cast iron skillet with some melted butter.
You might find that your spaetzle were too runny (and came out too thin). This is the time to add a bit more flour. If you found that the dough was too thick and you had a hard time pushing it through the holes, just add a bit more milk.
Continue cooking the spaetzle until you have used up all the dough.
We like to serve them with some soft goat cheese and topped with a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese!
Have you used stinging nettles before? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Pin for Later:
Stinging Nettle Spaetzle
- 3 cups flour (I like spelt)
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup stinging nettles, steamed or blanched
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Blanch nettles in a steamer basket or blanch in boiling water just until soft.
- Add nettles and the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until well-combined. the dough should be thick but still somewhat runny. If you don’t have a blender, you can finely chop the nettles and mix everything in a big bowl.
- Bring water in a big pot to a boil. Add a bit of salt. Using a spaetzle maker or colander with big holes, push some of the dough through the holes into the boiling water. They are done when they’re floating on the surface.
- With a slotted spoon, take spaetzle out and transfer either to a big bowl or a skillet with some melted butter.
- If your dough was too runnny, add some more flour. If it was too thick, add some more milk. Working in batches, continue until all the dough has been used up.
- Serve warm with lots of grated parmesan cheese. Soft goat cheese is also good. Enjoy!