Tuesday, July 01, 2008

fresh pasta three ways

pasta (or paste if you want to be more correct) is always much better when freshly made at home. while it does take effort on your part to make the dough and form it into various shapes, the advantage is that it can be done in large batches and frozen for up to several months. cooked either fresh or from its frozen state, it is ready in 3 minutes or less — much faster than using the dried variety (and much better!).

having a pasta machine makes the work much easier, especially if you are making a lot of it. it is not essential however as it can be rolled out by hand. be prepared for a workout though! you'll need to roll out your dough to a minimum of an 1/8th of an inch and thinner if you can do it. much of the process of hand rolling relies on having a very well rested dough so the gluten relaxes and is more amenable to being coaxed to stretch to its maximum length and width.

plain pasta is always good however to add some extra nutrients and colour, i'm showing how to do it with spinach and with tomato. if you're eager enough, you can even make all three kinds and serve it "tricolore" style, a tribute to its home country — italy. it looks quite nice on an oblong plate in separate piles of green, white (errr...yellow), and red.

buon appetito!

fresh spinach pasta

makes 1 pound (454 gr) - increase as necessary (below)


2 c all purpose flour (10 oz) + 1/2 c durum semolina pasta flour OR,
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

3 large eggs
water as needed (only if necessary)

1/2 lb (250 gr) fresh spinach or 1/4 lb frozen (125 gr)


bring 4 c water to boil and add some salt (not the one from recipe!).

cook freshly chopped (or frozen) spinach in boiling and salted water until cooked. fresh spinach will take very little time.

drain the spinach and rinse it under cold water. squeeze it until almost all moisture is gone. this is very important as you don't want excess water. also, use a FINE meshed colander or you will loose parts of your spinach.

chop the spinach very, very finely or do it in a food processor, pulsing as you do it. you don't want a purée.

set this aside.

mix the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. if you don't have one, you can do this on the counter. you can also do this in a large food processor if you aren't comfortable or don't have the strength or ambition to do it by hand.

make your fontana by pushing the flour from the middle to the sides. make sure you have a strong wall which is high enough so that the liquid ingredients do not spill over. add the eggs to the middle space. with a fork, your fingers or chop sticks, mix the eggs to scramble them.

add the chopped spinach to the eggs now.

mix the eggs and spinach together and start to bring in the flour slowly from the INNER sides of the ridge of flour to slowly form a dough mass. this will take a little time. it will also get a bit more difficult as more flour is absorbed. continue until you can no longer add more flour. remember to try to conserve the wall until as late as possible in the process.

if you need extra water to make a smooth dough, add it now in very small amounts until the dough is formed.

now the hard part if doing this by hand — the kneading. knead the pasta dough for a good 4 to 5 minutes to make sure all is incorporated and the spinach is well distributed. you will see little flecks of green and white most likely. if there are large patches of white, then you haven't kneaded enough. these little spots will disappear as you roll out the dough and cook it.

let the dough rest for a minimum of 2 hours, covered.

cut the ball into 4 separate pieces and do not reroll it. this will make it elastic.

take one ball and roll it out very thinly and cut into desired shapes.

if you have a pasta machine, you need to extend the dough several times first, following the instructions of your machine.

cut the extended dough with the attachment you prefer.

if doing this by hand, have a large well flour surface and roll out your piece very, very thinly as much as you can. make sure that it does not stick to the board or counter, reflouring as needed.

flour both sides again (with a thin dusting) and roll up loosely and cut into strips. if you don't flour, they'll stick together and you'll have a disaster. loosen up (detangle them afterwards) the pasta and let your pasta sit a few minutes to dry out a bit.

i always reflour the cut noodles (place in a bowl with flour and gently toss them to distribute the flour and noodles.

put them in ziplocs in the portions needed. all that is necessary to cook them is to boil the water and put the pasta directly into the water, frozen. it will cook in under 3 minutes usually.

* * * * * * * *

regular (plain) pasta dough


2 c all purpose flour (+ extra as needed)
1 t salt
1 t olive oil
3 eggs
water if needed


follow procedure above.

* * * * * * * *

tomato & cracked black pepper pasta dough


2 c all purpose flour + extra as needed
1 t salt
1 1/2 - 3 tsp CRACKED black pepper* OR coarsely ground
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried (optional)
1 t olive oil
3 - 4 tbsp good quality tomato paste
3 eggs

water if needed

*place whole peppercorns in a paper bag and crack/crush them with a rolling pin. don't add finely ground pepper, it's not the same thing and inappropriate for this recipe. i didn't have whole peppercorns at the time so used coarsely ground in the photos below. use the amount of pepper at your discretion.


follow procedure above and add the tomato paste in place of the spinach.

i use some pasta flour also and like to mix the eggs and tomato paste separately and then add it to the fontana — either way works.

the finished product :)



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, amazing! You are a real pasta chef!!! I bet they taste as good as they look... Yummy!



sari said...

omg, you even make fresh pasta at home!!!!! you know, you're my fave teacher but i won't be a good pupil on this subject, though it's tempting enough :)

evolvingtastes said...

Genius! All I want is a fork.

Callipygia said...

I think I'd love to rummage through your freezer! We often had homemade pasta and it is so much better- love the add-ins.

LG said...

Pasta look very colorful and they must have tasted good. This is the first time I am learning about pasta making machine that can be used at home.

Jeena said...

I love this post so much!

I have a pasta machine and have
cooked some fresh pasta a few times, but I have been so busy that the machine has spent a lot of time sat on the shelf waiting for me to use it!

My hubby keeps saying "why don't you use the pasta machine more?"....

Now though that I have seen your delicious spinach pasta I know that I must make some very soon! I love spinach and would love to try this recipe, I will let you know how it goes when I cook some for sure. :-D

burekaboy — said...

rosa - much appreciated; no chef's school needed to make these. mix, roll, cut and cook :))

sari - lazy!! hehe, so am i though. if i didn't have a pasta machine, i don't think i'd make it as often as i do. hand rolled is good but with a machine, you get consistently even noodles.

evolvingtastes - hey there. i'll even provide you with the plate ;p thanks for your comment.

calli - ummm, you may not want to do that! LOL, something may come flying out of it as it's usually packed FULL. i am thankful every passover when i can clean out what lurks deep inside!

nothing beats homemade pasta. the best part is how you can freeze it and it takes no time to cook.

lg - hi, nice to see you and hope you are doing well. pasta machines are actually quite common and they are not that big. i have a small one. some are a bit bigger with many different attachments but they are all designed to fit on the counter top for home cooking. if you make/eat pasta a lot it's a good investment (they're usually between 40 to 80 USD).

jeena - glad you liked! time to break out your machine!! i'm sure your husband will be thankful you troubled and toiled to make him fresh pasta. the spinach one is really good, if not just for the colour. it doesn't taste heavily of spinach for those picky eaters.

hope you enjoy it if you give it a try. it's even easier just to stretch the dough in the rollers and cut it into strips for lasagne.

LG said...

Hi BB, You have a award on my blog. You have always inspired me in many ways. Thanks!

burekaboy — said...

lg - oh wow, thank you. how unexpected :)) glad to have been able to inspire you!

TopChamp said...

I made peppery pasta before. The mix was easy enough, but when it came to run it through the mixer I found a problem... My freshly ground pepper wasn't fine enough to get the pasta through the thinner settings on the pasta machine. Oops.

Now spinach is my favourite vegetable (jointly tying places with onions and mushrooms).

burekaboy — said...

TC - new avatar, i see! :))

yeah, you have to test out the correct grind for the cracked black pepper. if it's too large, it gets stuck in the machine and also rips the dough up.

much of making many of these things is from experience. i've had my share of messes and screw ups!

spinach - yum!

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

ohhh, spinach pasta, how beautiful... too muggy to make it now, but someday I would love to try this!

burekaboy — said...

emily - i only make it a few times a year -- LOL, i'm too lazy to do it more often. great thing is that you can make a lot and freeze it. it cooks so much quicker than the dried kind.