If you asked me ten years ago what spaetzle was, you probably would have gotten a blank stare. Okay you definitely would have gotten a blank stare. That’s right in my younger years I was not the well rounded, equal opportunity eater I am today.
In my defence growing up I was not overly exposed to different types of cuisines. It would be fair to say my palate was not very refined, fine my palate was seriously inexperienced. I was raised in a small town in which cultural, and therefore culinary, diversity was more or less non-existent. As a result of this lack of exposure, my adulthood has been filled with lots of embarrassing culinary experiences.
Like what? Well there was the first lunch meeting with my new, first ever real boss, which incidentally was my first time to a Japanese restaurant, first time eating sushi and first time using chopsticks in public. That’s a whole lot of firsts for one lunch! Trying making intelligent conversation while trying to watch how your boss is holding his chopsticks… Let me tell you it is not (and serious emphasis on the not) easy!! Smile, nod, try not to stare too long, oh and try to figure out which one is the eel. Talk about mentally exhausting!
Might as well stick on this Asian train of embarrassment…
First time dining at a Thai restaurant, was a first date that went all kinds of wrong. Let me introduce you to a 20 year old me, trying to seem some mixture of mature, sophisticated, and worldly to the cute boy in class. And when he (finally) asked me to dinner, I answered with: Of course I love Thai, eat it all the time. (Wrong. Never.) Oh and a great authentic place. Awesome. Pad Pik Pow What? So what’s a girl to do, but suggest the cute boy could do the ordering. Trying to look cute, while trying not to choke on the spice, again not easy. No wonder that relationship didn’t go far.
First time I ate authentic Indian food (which was a goat curry no less) was at an end of term lunch that my very sweet, older Indian organizational behaviour professor hosted for his students each term. Oh goat yum. Again spice was out to get me. Before you start thinking it was probably a large group, easy to hid pushing the goat around my plate – it was not. Nor did it turn out to be the best time to ask for a letter of reference for grad school as I hoped it would be.
I’d tell you about the first time I had Dim Sum but pretty sure I’ve embarrassed myself for one day! Even though we got off to a rocky start these foods are now a few of my favorites. I’m still a wimp when it comes to spice, still not eating eel, but I can certainly find my way around a Thai menu (one of my better skills), my chopstick skills are passable, and goat is actually not that bad.
What is my favorite cuisine?
Italian is probably tops of the list, but the past few years Eastern European food has been steadily climbing up the list. I travelled to Prague for a short course while doing my Masters and loved everything I ate! Let’s just say it is a good thing I did a lot of walking those 2 weeks. Thankfully no funny stories to report, just good food. Rustic and rich what is not to love?! Since that first crash course thanks to a little more traveling and a prominent Eastern European community here in Alberta I’ve really come to learn about and love Eastern European food. If I had to pick – my hands down favorite is the star of my salad, spaetzle. Have you had spaetzle? Is it a dumpling? Is it a noodle? Or just little clouds of heaven on your plate? Who knows? Who cares!! Spaetzle is just so darn tasty. Served with a cheese sauce, ohh or when it is mixed with bacon, or served along with braised meat or schnitzel… Okay must stop getting extremely, extremely hungry. But you get the delicious, not so healthy picture. Spaetzle rocks and is the most delicious accompaniment to pretty much anything – even a salad!
This recipe is one of the good ones that comes out of a need to use up leftovers and veggies that need to be eaten. Oh and my desire to use my mandolin more (such a fun kitchen gadget). The spaetzle adds just enough substance to this salad to make it dinner appropriate, especially on a beautiful fall evening.
Serve with a crisp riesling from Alsace or New York State this zucchini, guanciale, mozzarella and spaetzle salad makes for a delightful dinner any night of the week!
- 12 thin slices guanciale
- 2 zucchini, sliced thin length wise
- 4 basil leaves, chiffonade
- 250 grams fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn
- 500 grams mixed greens
- 2 cups of spaetzle, prepared accordingly
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- juice of ½ lemon
- grated lemon rind
- Prepare spaetzel according to directions, then set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place guanciale on an oven tray and roast until crisp (3-4 minutes), then set aside.
- For garlic lemon dressing: warm oil in a saucepan over low heat, remove from heat, add garlic, lemon rind and juice and set aside.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, drizzle zucchini with olive oil, season to taste and cook in batches, turning once, until golden (3-4 minutes).
- Combine cooked spaetzle, guanciale, zucchini, basil and mozzarella in a large bowl, season to taste, drizzle garlic lemon dressing over, toss to combine.