Swabian Cuisine – Linsen & Spätzle
After showing you how to make Spätzle last week, today I’ll show you one of my favourite Swabian dishes they go with – Linsen (lentils) & Spätzle. I know hardly anyone who’s Swabian and doesn’t like Linsen & Spätzle. Don’t let the fact that this dish is not a pretty one (or that I just didn’t manage to make it look pretty) keep you from trying it.
Although this is more of a comfort food type of dish, the kind you have any time of year but summer, a true Swabian will eat this all year round. This dish isn’t complete without sausages, and we have a special kind here in the south that’s called Saiten(würstchen). I know this is not widely available, but any kind of scalded sausage – like wieners – will do. If you could look at the ingredients, Saiten and wieners probably are exactly the same thing…
The bacon I’ve used here for the first time is optional. In my family it’s always added, but until now I’ve omitted it. Its use is really only for some more taste. I’m not talking about bacon rashers here but big chunks of bacon.
If served at home or at a cafeteria, this dish will be served with vinegar, which you can either just add a tablespoonful of or pour in plenty of. It’s a matter of taste, and I don’t usually add more than 2 tablespoonsful. In most restaurants you won’t get the vinegar option. When I say vinegar, I’m talking about a very plain kind – red wine or malt vinegar – but definitely not balsamic.
As good as this is homemade, I must say I’ve never eaten this anywhere and didn’t like it. Even the office cafeteria that I avoid like the plague does this pretty well.
Linsen & Spätzle
1 recipe Spätzle
1 cup lentils
3 – 4 cups water
2 tsp salt
3 – 4 carrots
2 pairs of sausages
piece of bacon (optional)
3 bay leaves
3 pairs of sausages (e.g. Saiten or Wieners)
vinegar to serve
Chop the onion very finely and sauté it in butter. If using, add the bacon, sauté some more, then add the lentils. Add 2 tsp of salt and 3 cups of water to begin with so the lentils are covered in liquid but keep adding more as it evaporates. The water level should always be 1 – 2 cm above the lentils.
Peel the carrots and cut into 3 or 4 pieces, add them to the pot together with the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Keep boiling for a while but check on the lentils every now and then and top up water. They should soften and be done within 30 – 45 minutes, and you can reduce temperature to medium after about 20 minutes. Also check seasoning and add salt to your taste.
Use this time to make the spätzle.
When the lentils are done, make a roux by heating some butter, stirring in some flour, then adding some of the cooking liquid. Add to the lentils immediately and stir properly to avoid lumps forming. Keep the lentils on medium heat and add the sausages, either whole or cut into slices. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until the sausages are warmed through. If your roux leaves the lentils too thick with no liquid left, add a little more water with the sausages. The consistency should not be soupy but more like a thick stew.
Serve the lentils with the spätzle and some vinegar.