After receiving the Kitchen-Aid pasta-making attachment as a Christmas gift, I’ll admit that I went on a bit of a pasta-making binge in the month of January. After a failed attempt at using the dough-hook on my mix-master (which my wife had previously considered to be HER mix-master) to create a simple batch of pasta, I dove head (and hands) first into a more old-fashioned approach, as outlined in my previous post. Using as a guide the simple recipes that came with the rollers, I endeavored to exercise my newfound abilities in the creation of pastas of various flavors, textures and colors.
The first of these creations was a simple (relatively speaking) spinach lasagna noodle.
Special note: While the inclusion of a leafy green in a recipe often infers “health,” or at least some implication thereof, it must be noted that there is just as much flour, salt and egg in this recipe as in others. So suck it, health food.
6 oz baby spinach
4 cups unbleached flour plus extra for kneading and rolling pasta
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
Blanch the spinach to begin the pasta-making process. The blanching process is wonderful for enhancing both the natural flavors and the bright green color of the leaves. To prepare the spinach, blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes, and remove to a bowl of ice water.
Strain the water from the leaves (either with a strainer, or by removing them with your hands) and squeeze the majority of the water out of them, which should leave you with about a ½ cup of leaves.
Place the condensed handful of spinach into a food-processor, and process with a pinch of salt and a splash (2-3 tablespoons) of water until the texture is very fine.
Place the flour on your mixing surface, create a well in the center, and add crack in the eggs. Begin beating the eggs in the well of flour, slowly working the sides of the well into the egg mixture until it looks like normal scrambled eggs.
Add 2 tablespoons of water and the spinach to the mixture and continue beating. Slowly fold in the flour until you can forgo the fork and use your hands.
I like to make the dough with a little extra water, and then use additional flour to smooth it down and dry it out to keep it from sticking to the work surface.
Knead the dough by hand, folding and pressing, for about 10-15 minutes. Apparently this time gets significantly shorter as your skills improve…but that has yet to happen for me.
I tend to let the dough rest, although my preliminary research online revealed that many believe this step to be unnecessary, before cutting it into pieces and rolling it out. Apparently the rest in rarely necessary, especially if you’re going to cook all of the pasta immediately.
Rolling the dough is the most time-consuming and repetitive part of the process. Beginning on thickness “1” on the machine, feed a piece of dough through the rollers, fold the dough in half, and repeat the process until all of the dough is of uniform size, texture and color. Repeat until your desired thickness level (I prefer number “3”) is reached.
One of the interesting things about making spinach pasta is that you can see how well kneaded the dough is as you roll it out. On the first feed-through, the flakes of spinach are still individually visible in the dough. By the time you’ve fed it through the machine an adequate amount, the dough has turned a uniform green.
The final step, of course, is to either cook or dry the pasta. Cooking fresh pasta takes no more than 2-3 minutes in salted, boiling water. When you strain the pasta, make sure to quickly douse it with cold water, as the heat will continue to cook it. The last thing you would want after seeing this process through is a batch of overcooked noodles.
As a warning (or an endorsement), this recipe makes A LOT of pasta. By sheer volume, I would guess that the resulting amount was approximately the equivalent of 2 pounds of dried (boxed) lasagna, which is probably why it led to the assembly, and subsequent consumption, of six lasagna’s.