Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Summer Fest has officially transitioned into Fall Fest, and this week's theme ingredient is spinach. To be honest, I was feeling kind of uninspired about this one - I just didn't really have any idea what to make. Pretty much the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to make a dish that didn't require removing the spinach stems...I'm kind of lazy about certain things (I just realized the irony of the last statement in a post about homemade pasta, ha). Anyway, I had some time to kill over the weekend, so I eventually decided to incorporate the spinach into some fresh pasta.
I was underwhelmed by how this pasta turned out - the flavor was good but the texture was too soft. Definitely not the best pasta I've made at home. I have a feeling this was my own fault, and not the recipe's - I used more spinach than called for, and I didn't let the pasta dry out enough before cooking. If any of you are expert pasta makers, please share your tips!
A note on pasta making - I use an Atlas hand-crank pasta machine to roll out the dough. Although it is time-consuming, I do enjoy the methodical process of rolling the dough into thinner and thinner sheets. I actually find it kind of relaxing. Kitchenaid also makes a pasta roller/cutter attachment for their stand mixers if you want to speed things up.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cooking School
Makes 4 servings
6 ounces fresh spinach, washed well
1 large egg plus one large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp coarse salt
Steam spinach until tender and bright green, about 2 minutes. Let cool and then thoroughly squeeze out liquid. Chop spinach coarsely (you should have about 1/3 cup).
Combine spinach, egg, and egg yolk in a food processor and mix until well combined. Add the flour and salt and process until a dough forms, about 20 seconds.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic (it should contract if you stretch it a bit), about 10 minutes. Add up to 2 tbs more flour if the dough is too sticky. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest 1-2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep remaining pieces covered with a kitchen towel. Flatten dough until it is a bit narrower than the pasta machine's thickest setting (#1). Dust with flour and pass through machine. Fold dough into thirds, turn 90 degrees and pass through machine again. Repeat this step once more. Adjust machine to setting #2 and pass dough through twice. Pass dough once through each of the other settings. Stop at the second-thinnest setting (#8). If your dough tears, you can patch it, sprinkle with flour, and pass through the machine to smooth out the patch.
Drape dough over a drying rack (or back of a chair, in my case) and dry until only slightly tacky, about 10-15 minutes. Cut dough into strands using pasta machine cutter. Drape strands over rack until they are almost dry and don't stick together (20 minutes or so).
If you are not cooking the pasta immediately you can do one of the following:
- Lay strands flat on a lightly dusted (with semolina or cornmeal) baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- Wrap pasta into nests (several strands per nest) and let them dry on kitchen towel for 24 hours - they should be completely free of moisture. Dried nests can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.