I realize I'm more willing to spend time cooking than most, but every time I go to the store, I'm amazed at what people will buy to avoid even the most simple and basic tasks. Heat and eat mashed potatoes? Are you kidding?
While at the store yesterday, I saw boxed spätzle mix. Come on! Spätzle are even simpler than mashed potatoes, and they're heavenly.
For those of you who are spätzle-challenged, spätzle exist all over central and eastern Europe (my pet theory is that they were invented by a tired housewife who needed to make noodles but had neither the time nor the energy). Spätzle are made from a very soft dough, almost a batter, that is "dribbled" through a spätzle maker or a colander into simmering water or soup.
The only thing about spätzle is you really want a spätzle maker. You can use a colander (do not even think about trying to make them with a strainer, though), but a spätzle maker is well worth the money.
There are two types of spätzle makers I'm aware of: the cheap hand model (see pic below), which runs about ten bucks, and the "crank" model, which runs about forty bucks.
See the square bin? You put the dough in the bin, then move it back and forth across the base. As the bin moves back and forth across the holes, it cuts the spätzle and they drop into the water. Very simple.
This recipe makes enough for two; in this recipe, eggs provide all the liquid, so they are richer, but a bit heavier than your everyday recipe. I'll provide a less rich, and lighter recipe second (directions are the same). You have to have something to eat with spätzle, so after this recipe, I'll give you a link to my recipe for Veal Paprikas.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
Beat the eggs until frothy, then mix in the flour and salt. The dough should be very soft and sticky — halfway between cake batter and biscuit dough. Sticky, not a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl.
Spoon the dough into the spätzle maker over the SIMMERING, not boiling, water and run the bin back and forth until the dough is all gone. SIMMER about five minutes, until all the spätzle are floating, then drain and toss with melted butter.
1 C. flour
1 t. salt
scant 1/2 c. milk (more or less)
Here's my recipe for Veal Paprikas.