I’ve made pasta a few times by hand over the last year or so (Homemade Pasta, Ravioli), but I was really excited about this version first because I got to try out my spiffy new pasta attachment for my stand mixer and second because Spinach Pasta won the poll last week and that sounded very delicious to me.
It turned out just as green as I hoped it would be!
This is definitely one of those meals that feels healthier than it is. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s packed with veggies, but at the end of the day it’s still a pasta which is just eggs and flour and salt. As far as pastas go though, it’s pretty healthy. The only way you could make it healthier would be to maybe sub in some whole wheat flour which you could definitely do. I wouldn’t do more than half whole wheat flour if you go that route.
1) Dethaw spinach in microwave and press out as much moisture as possible with paper towels. Dice spinach very finely or pulse in a food processor.
2) Mix spinach and flour together and then form a well with the mixture on a clean counter.
3) Add liquids to the well and slowly start working working the liquids with a fork until the flour combines with the liquids and you end up with a tight ball of dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
4) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
5) Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, run it through a pasta machine on the lowest (widest) setting. Slowly work up the scale until you get to 6 or two away from the highest setting. If at any point the dough becomes sticky, dust it with flour.
6) Slice the pasta into wide noodles.
7) Either freeze pasta or cook it immediately in salted water for a few minutes until it floats.
Prepping the Spinach
I used frozen spinach for this and I think that it worked fine. Other than spinach, you really only need a few things.
The key to the spinach in this recipe is to get out as much moisture as possible and chop it as fine as possible before adding it to your pasta. I defrosted mine in the microwave for a few minutes and then laid it out on a clean kitchen towel (or a few paper towels) and pressed as much liquid as possible.
You should end up with a nice tight ball or cube of spinach. Then chop it up pretty finely. The recipe recommended processing it in a food processor but that seemed kind of excessive to me, so I just chopped mine.
Making the dough
If you are using a stand mixer to make the dough, just combine the spinach and flour into your bowl and stir them up a bit to make sure the spinach isn’t too clumped together. Then add the eggs and water and mix with the flat beater for about 30 seconds until it comes together. Then switch to the dough hook and mix on low for about 2 minutes. Turn the dough out after that and knead by hand for a few minutes.
My dough was pretty wet so I had to add some extra flour. I probably added another 1/2 Cup of flour to get the right consistency which stiff, but pliable and not sticky at all.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can definitely mix this by hand. Just mix your flour and spinach together and then form your well and add your eggs. Slowly mix everything together until you end up with the exact same product which should look something like this:
If you need a bit of a longer walk-through on the homemade-pasta-well thing, here’s my longer post on it!
You can completely roll this out by hand like I did in that post.
Whether or not you have a pasta roller or you do it by hand, be sure to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. That’ll help the dough relax a bit and make it easier to work with.
Rolling the Pasta
If you have a roller, cut your dough ball into eight equal pieces (roughly) and work on one piece at a time. If you’re doing it by hand you can probably do fourths just because you won’t be constrained by the width of the pasta roller.
If you’re using a roller, start with the widest setting and put it through a few times, folding it over in half in between passes. This kind of works to knead the dough. Three or four times through should do the trick! At the end you’re sheet should be the exact width of you pasta roller.
If the dough starts to stick at all, dust the sheet of pasta with flour. Then you can work it through the roller until it gets down to your desired thickness. I went with a six setting which was two away from the thinnest setting.
Then I switched to the linguine cutter and chopped up the sheets! Again, this is all very doable by hand.
The one thing I noticed when cutting this pasta is that the cutters didn’t always cut through the strands because of the spinach so I kind of had to separate the strands by hand even after they came out of the cutter. Eventually I got the job done though!
I would say that once I got started rolling it probably took me 30 minutes to roll out and cut the entire ball of dough. There was also a bit of a learning curve since it was my first time using the equipment. I’d bet I could do it in 15-20 next time.
Storing the Pasta
I tried storing the pasta two ways: frozen and refrigerated. The frozen worked a lot better. Basically I just dusted the pasta strands with flour, laid nests of pasta (like above) on a baking sheet, and then stuck them in the freezer until they freeze solid. A few hours should do the trick. Then you can carefully transfer the nests to a freezer bag and store them for a few weeks without a problem.
Cooking the Pasta
Whether you’re using fresh or frozen, cooking the stuff is about the same. Just bring a large pot of salted water (1 Tablespoon kosher per gallon is good) to a boil. When it’s boiling, add your pasta. You don’t need to thaw your frozen pasta before tossing it in. It’ll separate as soon as it hits the water. After 3 or 4 minutes all the pasta should be floating and that means it’s done!
You could serve this pasta a lot of ways. Just some butter and parmesan would be good. I decided to make a very simple cherry tomato sauce.
I added about 1 cup of cherry tomatoes with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and put it over high heat with 1 Teaspoon of red pepper flakes. If you start this right when you start the pasta they should be done at the same time.
I didn’t want to completely cook down the tomatoes, just heat them up and get the flavors between the oil, pepper flakes, and tomatoes to meld. When the pasta is done you can use tongs to pull it out of the water and add it straight to the pan with the tomatoes! Stir everything together and serve it up!
I think this was my most successful pasta so far. The machine really helps to make sure the pasta is uniform which helps with cooking and everything. What was interesting about this is that their was practically no difference between the fresh version and frozen version I made.
I’m actually eating the frozen version as I write this post and it’s just as good as on day one!