By Amy White | Photo by Sergio Salvador
Early spring is the most difficult time to find fresh local produce, because the fruits and veggies that keep well through the winter are starting to run out, and it’s still too cold for gardening. But spinach, one of the most cold-hardy vegetables there is, can overwinter even in subzero temperatures if planted in fall and well mulched. Or it can be planted in spring, as soon soil temperatures reach 35°F!
I often have trouble thinking of specific recipes for spinach, simply because it’s so versatile – you can add it to just about anything for a touch of earthiness and a blast of vitamins and minerals. Mustard and sweet onions really complement its flavor.
Spaetzle are tiny dumplings with a noodle-like texture, in this case flavored with mustard (but feel free to leave it out or experiment with other spices that sound good to you!) This makes a lovely side dish, or you can add some leftover roast chicken, sautéed mushrooms, and/or pancetta to make it a filling main dish.
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main dish.
MUSTARD SPAETZLE WITH SPINACH AND SWEET ONIONS
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour not whole wheat
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large sweet or red onion
- 1/2 pound spinach
- A handful of chopped pancetta bacon ham, cooked chicken and/or mushrooms (optional)
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Whisk the eggs, flour, milk, mustard and salt in a small bowl. To make the spaetzle, push the batter through the holes of a colander (you need one with very large holes, at least ¼ inch) into the boiling water. Or just push small lumps of batter off the edge of a spoon. They're done when they float to the surface. Drain and set aside.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet on medium flame. Add the bacon or pancetta (if using) and brown. Add onions and cook for a few minutes, until translucent and soft but not browned. If using mushrooms, push the onions to the side and brown the mushrooms. Add the chicken, if desired, and just heat it through. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Add the spaetzle, toss to coat with oil, and cook until they get a bit crispy in spots.