My make-ahead Spaetzle noodles can be formed and boiled up to 3 days ahead. Try my Spaetzle-making trick using a colander if you don't have (or want to invest in) special equipment to make this classic German side dish recipe.
Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs until light and frothy. Add flour, a little at a time, into eggs, then add salt and nutmeg.
Pour milk into the mixture, a little at a time and beat on medium speed until well blended, about 8-10 minutes.
To boil the spaetzle:
If using a spaetzle maker: place the tool over the hot water and scoop some dough into it. Press the spaetzle maker down to squeeze the noodles out into the simmering water. Repeat in batches as necessary. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the noodles float to the top.
If using a colander or steamer with large holes (not mesh): place the colander over the hot water and scoop some dough into it. Press the flat side of a sturdy wooden spoon across the colander to push the noodles out into the simmering water. Repeat in batches as necessary. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the noodles float to the top.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the spaetzle to a colander and then plunge them in a bowl of very cold water. This firms them up to the desired consistency.
Toss with olive oil or melted butter to keep from sticking. At this point, spaetzle will keep in the refrigerator 2-3 days until ready to serve.
To finish the spaetzle:
In a skillet, melt butter on medium high heat until brown. Add cooked spaetzle noodles and toss in skillet until coated. Season with salt and serve immediately.
Spaetzle tools: We tried 3 different tools to see what was easiest for making Spatezle. Our favorite was this lid and scraper set because it was simple to use and easy to clean. We also tried a spaetzle press (it was expensive, heavy, and required a lot of strength) and a spaetzle maker (similar concept to the lid and scraper but more difficult to use). You could also try a colander or potato ricer. (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through these links.)
All-purpose flour: When a modern recipe calls for sifted flour, it usually means that the recipe requires fluffier, aerated flour, or flour without any lumps. As it is packaged, shipped, and stored, flour settles in the bag. Sifting lightens it up again. It also creates space for the other components in the recipe to get in between the flour particles and do their work. Cakes become fluffier, pancakes lighter; you get the idea. To sift flour, over a sheet of parchment paper, foil, or a bowl, add flour (or any dry ingredients) to a fine-mesh strainer and tap the side with one hand. Anything left in the bottom can be pushed through with a spoon.
Nutmeg: Freshly-ground nutmeg is warm and nutty, and once heated, lends a lovely clove-like flavor. Find whole nutmeg in most supermarkets or on Amazon.
Yield: This Spaetzle recipe makes six hearty side dish servings of about 1 cup each.
Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Make ahead: Complete steps 1 through 7 up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container until you're ready to proceed with step 8.
Freezer: Cool the boiled spaetzle, then package in freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and store for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then proceed with the instructions to sauté until golden brown.