Photography by Rachel Horesovsky
My birthday is in October and I love it. I much prefer autumn to any other time of year. The weather is cool and crisp, the gardens are completely full and there is an incredible abundance of harvest produce at the farmer's market. Autumn puts me in the mood for earthy comfort foods like this dish.
It seems that the "trendy" new flavor this year is pumpkin. I have seen pumpkin beer, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin ravioli etc... So I was thinking why not pumpkin spaetzle? I served this for my birthday dinner with Pork Normandy (pork with apples and cream). and it was amazing and incredibly easy.
I am going to let you in on a little secret... I didn't use pumpkin in my pumpkin spaetzle. Gasp! Inconceivable! Liar!
Cooking pumpkin is a hassle. First of all the kind of pumpkin used for cooking is not the one used to make jack-o-lanterns. They are much much smaller and can be a little difficult to find. Canned pumpkin is too runny. Truthfully, the flavor we all think of as "pumpkin" has much more to do with the spices than the actual pumpkin flesh. I used sweet potato, but you could also use butternut squash. Simply take the cubes of sweet potato or squash, place them in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until they are very soft. You can even do this with pumpkin if you want to go through the trouble...but why would you?
Pumpkin Spaetzle with Fried Sage
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1/2 of one sweet potato, peeled, cubed and microwaved until tender)
3/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp butter
16 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
In a large bowl combine flour and salt and spices. In a separate bowl whisk together sweet potato, milk and eggs until well blended. Pour egg mixture into flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth sticky batter is formed.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Place colander or spaetzle maker over the top of the vigorously boiling water and push the batter through the holes into the water. Boil for about 5 minutes, drain.
At this point the spaetzle can be tossed with olive oil and refrigerated in a plastic bag until ready to serve.
Immediately before serving, melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add sage leaves and fry until crisp.
Frying sage leaves in butter flavors the butter and
makes a nice crispy garnish at the same time!
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.