Ricotta Spätzle with Beets, Caramelized Onions, and Pecorino

If you’ve been to a German- speaking part of the world, you’ve probably had the delectable little dumplings known as spätzle. If not, you’re probably wondering what that funny-looking word could possibly be. Translated literally, “spätzle” means “little sparrows”. Not quite sure that’s what I would think of when I look at them, but hey, to each their own. Traditionally, they’re made without ricotta, but I had some leftover and actually loved the light and airy texture it added to the spätzle.

This is one of those recipes that was made entirely on a whim out of what I found lounging around in the fridge, and it turned out so well that I had to share it with you! My spätzle maker was also feeling a bit forlorn and unloved, so I decided to give it a bit of an ego-boost by sharing a rather flattering photo of it below. If you feel like purchasing one, they’re rather inexpensive (here’s one), and once it’s been delivered by the Amazon fairy,  you can be well on your way to having an exorbitant amount of odd kitchen tools like moi. (All much-needed, of course…) If you don’t feel like adding to your stash of kitchen gadgets, I’ve included a way to make the little sparrows below that doesn’t require a new purchase. I have to say, though, it’s much more fun to make them with the actual device!

The recipe below requires using the entirety of the beet (greens, stalks, and all). Most people might not consider eating anything but the beet root, but the greens contain an astonishing amount of Vitamin K, calcium, iron, and magnesium, so don’t throw away those greens the next time you buy a bunch of beets! Sauté the greens and stalks and add them to scrambled eggs, pasta, quinoa, or anything else you can think of. Or just make this delectable spätzle dish 🙂

Ricotta Spätzle with Beets, Caramelized Onions, and Pecorino 

(serves 6)

Ingredients

4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 bunch beets with good-looking beet greens
salt and pepper
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano, divided

Spätzle
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
4 large eggs
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel beets and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with one tablespoon olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake on a baking sheet until a knife easily goes through them, about 35 min. Remove from the oven once done and reduce oven heat to 350°F.
  2. Meanwhile, cut onions in half and slice thinly. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add onions, and gently cook for about 30 min. until caramelized and soft, stirring every so often.
  3. Remove the beet stalks from the greens and slice into small pieces. Lay beet greens on top of one another and slice one way, and then turn and slice across the other way so that the greens end up in approximate 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, and sauté beet stalks for 5 min. until starting to get soft. Add garlic and beet greens and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, until greens start to wilt. Remove from heat.
  5. For the spätzle, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs, and warm water together until smooth. Add the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk until the consistency is that of a thick batter.
  6. Fill another large bowl with very cold water and add a couple of handfuls of ice. Have a slotted spoon on the ready.
  7. Once the pot of water is boiling, place your spätzle maker over the pot and add about 1/3 cup of dough to the hopper. Slowly push the hopper back and forth along the blades (you might need to wear a pot-holder on your hand for this – it can get hot from the steam from the boiling water!!) until all the batter has gone through. Once the little spätzle are all bobbing on the surface of the water (which is pretty much immediately), transfer the spaetzle to the bowl of ice water with the slotted spoon. Continue until all the batter has been used up, and then drain the spätzle in a colander. {If you don’t have a spätzle maker, you can put the batter in a Ziplock bag and cut off a corner of the bag. Squeeze out small portions of the batter into the water and use a small knife to cut off the batter as it comes out of the bag.}
  8. Use the last tablespoon of oil to grease a 9″x13″ Pyrex dish. Add the spätzle, roasted beets, caramelized onions, beet greens, and 1 cup of the Pecorino. Mix until well-combined. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino and bake at 350°F for about 30 min, or until the top is beginning to brown slightly.
  9. Enjoy while hot! This also makes awesome leftovers.

 

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