Spaetzle and Leek Casserole

I found this recipe by accident while looking for a Cheese Spaetzle recipe. By that time I had already some experience with casseroles and there wasn’t anything scary about baking something in the oven. We are also perfectly fine with vegetarian dishes and this one seemed perfect. What I didn’t know, was what an intense flavor leek adds to a meal. It is not as sharp as raw onions, but it gives the dish a distinctive flavor.

Note to self: Article/Rant about ethnic food pricing. $5 for one pound of noodles if your standard super market even carries it. Don’t despair. I’ve found Aldi is selling it for $2.29 or so.

Recipe: Spaetzle and Leek Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound spaetzle noodles
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 stalks of leek
  • 5 oz of spinach
  • 12 oz shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 table spoon butter
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Butter a casserole dish (at least 2" deep and needs a lid)
  3. Slice the zucchini and leeks in ¼" slices
  4. Boil the spaetzle in salt water, typically for 12-13 minutes.
  5. Drain the spaetzle and layer ⅓ of them on the bottom of the casserole dish.
  6. Next layer is half your spinach, half the zucchini.
  7. Push the half the leek slices apart into rings and add them on top.
  8. Salt and pepper this layer.
  9. Add ⅓rd of your cheese.
  10. Repeat this with another layer of spaetzle, spinach, zucchini, leeks and again cheese.
  11. You may have to push it down a bit, since your casserole dish is most likely full by now.
  12. Add the remaining spaetzle and top them with the remaining cheese.
  13. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes, with lid on top
  14. Bake it for 5-10 more minutes without a lid
  15. Serve

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Cheese Spaetzle

Cheese Spaetzle, the German answer to Mac & Cheese with a twist. Or with onions. You’ll find this dish all over southern Germany, in a small Gasthaus or in not so fancy restaurants. It’s a quick fix if you don’t want to go for a fully featured entree. Or something used as a foundation if you are out to get some serious beer drinking done. Or get the munchies while drinking serious beer. You get the idea.

But it’s also easy to make in a hurry or in a bind and once you have the spaetzle covered, the remaining ingredients should be available in every kitchen.

Recipe: Cheese Spaetzle
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound spaetzle noodles
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 8 oz Swiss or Emmentaler cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Boil the spaetzle in salt water, see bag for duration.
  2. Dice the onion and saute them in oil.
  3. Drain the spaetzle once they are done and put half of them in a bowl.
  4. Add one layer of onions (about ⅔rds) on top.
  5. Add one half of the shredded cheese.
  6. Add the other half of the noodles, the remaining onions and top with the remaining cheese.
  7. Serve.
Notes
Some variants call to bake the spaetzle for 20 minutes in the oven before serving. Go ahead, it won’t hurt.

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German Potato Salad

Yes, potato salad. Nothing special about it. Plenty of dishes called for this potato salad and it was just a given. You only start missing it when you can’t have it. Like when you move to California. They do have decent potato salad there as well. Mayo based. You start wondering why mayo based potato salad is different and can’t tell at first. Until you call your mother and ask how she makes potato salad and she mentions vinegar. Of course, it took me five more years to write down the recipe, since I had to make potato salad on request.

The only problem is the potato selection. Back home an entire vocabulary is build around it: Boils firm, good for potato salad and other secret words. None of them have been translated for me and I have to find out through experimenting. I know the standard red potatoes are just fine for potato salad and Yukon Gold are okay. I’ll conquer the secrets some day.

Recipe: German Potato Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 8 oz bacon
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes and dice or slice them afterwards.
  2. Saute the onions until just a bit glassy, don't let them get brown.
  3. Fry the bacon and cut or break it into small pieces.
  4. Mix the dressing: broth, vinegar, oil, mustard, sugar, pepper.
  5. In a small pot, heat the mixture until boiling and stir it through for a minute.
  6. Add the onions to the potatoes and poor the dressing on top.
  7. If vegetarians are around, keep the bacon pieces on the side, otherwise add them.
  8. Mix everything through.
  9. Can be served warm or cold.

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Bacon and Green Bean Stew

Imagine your 8 year old in front of a plate of broccoli. That’s me sitting in front of this stew. We had it relatively often, since it was easy to make and the ingredients weren’t to expensive. And making a big portion of it wasn’t hard, either. There was just the resistance of a rebellious youth to deal with.
The stew eventually grew on me and I was happy when it was served. I didn’t have this dish for many years, since I had left for Munich and the US, because I was only rarely eating at my parents house, and when, it was usually a more festive meal. It is something for every day, something great for a cold fall or winter day. Warms you up from the inside.

Recipe: Bacon and Green Bean Stew
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Easy stew
Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans
  • ½ pound thick sliced bacon or diced ham
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • garlic optional
  • nutmeg optional
Instructions
  1. Dice onion and potatoes.
  2. Cut the beans and bacon into ½-1 " pieces
  3. Heat the oil and fry bacon and onions in a large sauce pan until the bacon is light brown and the onions glassy. Don't let the bacon harden.
  4. Add some garlic, pepper and salt to taste.
  5. A sprinkle of nutmeg is optional.
  6. Add beans and potatoes and add vegetable stock until most is covered.
  7. Boil for 20 minutes and stir occasionally.
  8. Stir one final time until all the water has been soaked up by the potatoes

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