Source: Fam. Beerli cir. 1990’s
Fresh pasta dumplings (Knöpfli or Spätzle)
Knöpfli is a Swiss favorite. I don’t know how to translate this with an appealing word in English but all I get is fresh pasta dumplings. However, a more apropos comparison could be to the American favorite, Macaroni and Cheese! But, pasta it’s not. But, let’s not get hung up on a title here, because Knopfli is a wonderful, authentic dish loved by Swiss (and anyone else who tries it). A creamy combination of Swiss cheese flows through each and every bite of this delicious authentic dish.
Knöpfli for the Swiss, Spätzle for the Germans.
Knöpfli, is translated to mean “little buttons”. And little buttons floating in the water is just what they look like. However, if you’re German, you know this dish by the name of Spatzle. Like the Italians and their many forms and shapes of pasta, the knopfli is an original. The base of the dough dough is eggs, flour, and semolina fines. It’s very much like a pasta recipe, only you add milk instead of water. And, instead of a doughy consistency which you aim to achieve in pasta, Knopfli consistency is more of a thick paste, or oatmeal paste which peaks when you lift it.
Making this Knöpfli dish is a bit intimidating the first time. I used the help of a video to clear some things up for me. However, don’t use the recipes you find on the web. I think they are very inauthentic. The video helped me to see how the dough was to be and how to use the shaver tool. By the way, you must have the tool in the preparations of this dish. The Swiss invented a very crafty tool to get this dough shaped perfectly, and it makes the application quick, easy and clean. I found my tool @ the local thrift shop for CHF 1(~$1).
If you don’t have a tool, I’d say forget it. Otherwise, you’ll have a mess on your hands. There are many options on the market, I’d avoid the press and use the slide.
Fresh Pasta Dumplings
- 500 gr white flour
- 500 gr Semolina
- 1-2 tbs sea salt sea salt is perfect for this recipe!
- 6 eggs
- 3 dl milk
- 3 dl water
- 500 gr cheese gratred, appenzeller or gruyere is best for this dish
- 1-2 diced onions pre-cook, or carmalize and use as a topper
- 50-100 gr ham cut in small pieces, sautee and top along with onions
- Search for a semolina-based, or pure semolina flour.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
- In an electric mixer, combine eggs, milk, salt, and water together into a nice whip.
(or mix by hand with wooden spoon)
- Combine wet with dry by mixing w/ a large wooden spoon, or a whisk. Mix for about 5 min. until combined. Cover with a towel and let stand at room temperature for about 30 min. to about 1 hr.
- Have your knopfli tool ready to use. As you will see in the next photo, you pour a few spoon-full of the dough in the center of the white slider. You then move the slider forward and back, as your dough cuts off and drops into the boiling water
- Now begin to slide front and back, and your dough drops will drop and cook in the boiling water. This takes about 1 min. for them to cook. They (like fresh made pasta) rise to the top when cooked.
- Use a large hand-held sieve to scoop out the cooked dough pieces which are now floating a top of the water.
- Have a pasta type bowl near you to put the cooked pieces in a bowl and set aside. Be sure to drain as much of the water before you put the pieces into the bowl. Begin your layering with cheese and add in a spoon at a time of your sautee (onions, or mushrooms, or both)
- adding your yummy sautéed onions and mushrooms in-between layering with cheese
- My sister-in-law, Lotti whom is Swiss, told me that she layers. So, as they come out of the boiling water, she puts them in a baking dish, first layer Knöpfli, then cheese, then Knöpfli, then cheese-and so on until finished. When all is layered, she tops it with fried onions and serves. The heat from the Knöpfli melt the cheese and make it a great winter dish!