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Spinach Spätzli with Sage and Speck

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Serves 4 to 6

  • by from Pasta By Hand

This simple preparation is a staple in the alpine region of Italy. The few basics of butter, Parmigiano- Reggiano, and speck (a smoked and cured ham) are widely available, even during the winter months when fresh produce is sparse.

For the spätzli
  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, stemmed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
For the sauce
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 8 thin slices of speck, cut into narrow ribbons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Make the spätzli

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Bring a large pot filled with generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and blanch until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove immediately from the pot with tongs and transfer to the ice bath. When cool, drain the spinach in a colander. Place the spinach in a kitchen towel and wring until mostly dry; a bit of residual moisture is fine.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the spinach, eggs, nutmeg, and salt and process for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is broken up and mostly chopped. Add the flour and process for about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The batter should be thick and smooth. (If it is too thick, add water, 1 tsp. at a time.) Lightly oil a medium bowl and transfer the batter to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring another large pot filled with generously salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Working in batches, press the dough through a spätzli maker or colander into the simmering water. Simmer the spätzli until they float to the surface, about 1 minute. Stir to release any spätzli that have settled on the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 1 minute more, until tender. Remove immediately with a fine-mesh strainer and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the sauce and serve

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and sage until the butter melts. Add the speck and toss to coat with the butter. Remove the pan from the heat, add the spätzli, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into serving bowls and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Serve right away.

Photo: Ed Anderson

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