The many ways to eat Spätzli and Knöpfli
While you can find ready-made Spätzli in the convenience food shelves of all Swiss supermarkets, this is one of those dishes where home-made is so much tastier than factory-made. They are versatile too; they’re delicious with any meat and brown sauce (meatballs, chicken breasts, Gschnätzlets (sliced meat in brown sauce), beef stews and so on), or as a pasta bake with cheese, cream and steamed vegetables. I often cook two batches and use one batch immediately accompanied by meat and sauce, and the other batch as a pasta bake a few days later. You can also amend the recipe and add cooked, blended spinach for green Spätzli or anything else.
Spätzli and Knöpfli, what’s the difference?
As for the names, I call mine Spätzli, but they are, in fact, Knöpfli. Spätzli are long in shape and made by spreading the pasta dough onto a chopping board, then cutting off each single Spätzli with a knife before cooking. This is a very laborious process. The good news is, there’s the Knöpfli too. Knöpfli (translated: little buttons) are made with exactly the same dough and also taste the same, the only difference is that they’re more round in shape than long and it takes only minutes to make them. There are various tools to make Knöpfli. I’ve tested many but my one and only favourite is the Knöpflisieb (Knöpfli sieve) which you can get for about CHF 15 in most larger supermarkets (see photo). You can buy this sieve in some other countries too, or as a workaround you can use a grater from IKEA which has the same sized holes. As for the flour – you can use plain white flour or you can use Knöpflimehl which is durum wheat flour (located in the same shelf as all the other flour types). I think it makes a huge difference which flour you use – the Knöpflimehl makes much softer, better shaped Knöpfli.
Spätzli and Knöpfli are very popular in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and other Central European countries.
Knöpfli recipe for 4 people
- 300g Knöpflimehl or plain white flour
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 1.5dl milk-water (3/4 water, 1/4 milk)
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a whisk until you have a smooth dough. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a pan, bring 2-3 litres of water and a little salt to the boil. Once it’s boiling, press dough through the sieve and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain Spätzli, add some butter, let it melt and mix.