In Catholic southern Germany, Kaesespaetzle (German Cheese Pasta) is a vegetarian dish commonly served on Good Friday when eating meat is ‘verboten’ (forbidden); this tradition has been brought here to southern Australia by our family’s German cook and so transplanted into this small Aussie family. You’ll need a ‘Spaetzleschwab’; a gadget for pressing the viscous pasta dough into boiling water to make the noodles…
You can buy flour, but around here we grind 250 grams of our own the night before from an ancient form of grain called ‘spelt’. (Yes, we’ve got another German machine for grinding grain too!). Add three eggs, a level tea-spoonful of salt and some whey (or else a 1/4 cup of water) until the dough has the consistency of hot pizza cheese. Leave it stand overnight.
A large open pot of water is bought to the boil on the stove top, and the dough is squeezed into it from above through the Spaetzleschwab. After a few minutes to cook, the ‘noodles’ are scooped out and placed in an oven-proof baking dish. All the dough is used in this fashion, except one last lot to cover the filling after the sauce is added.
The Spaetzle sauce is made from chopped onion, garlic, mushroom, cream, paprika, pepper and herb salt, all fried up in a pan and added onto the thick bottom layer of spaetzle in the baking dish.
Put the last layer of spaetzle noodles over the top of this, and place cheese on top (a good cheddar is very tasty, else mozzarella). Place in a moderate oven and bake for half an hour or until the cheese melts into the noodles. Serve hot with a garden salad or something fresh from the kitchen garden.
This year we used the gardener’s own recipe for cucumber salad, using one of the last cucumbers of the season; just place big chunks of freshly-picked and peeled cucumber into a dish of olive oil and sprinkle generously with herb salt, stirring well.