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.
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
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
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 :)