This week has been a long one. There are many forms of therapy for people to relieve stress. There are the obvious ones: a long run, a glass of wine, a good phone conversation, a hot bath. But I've found that for me, what makes me feel instantly better is to plan and cook a long meal. What's a long meal? Well, the Bolognese, to start, and this mushroom soup, or any baked good. Particularly in winter, the last ingredient in a truly savory meal is time: to simmer, reduce, extract, let rest, or in this case, roll.
A food stylist/professional blogger/photographer, I am not, but I do find picture step by steps immensely helpful and am always seeking these out on other blogs, so this is my contribution. I hope this proves useful.
Click for step by step tutorials on how to mix and roll handmade pasta.
For plain pasta, you will need 100g of flour (or 3/4 of a cup) to 1 large egg. However, since we're adding spinach to this, we'll need an additional cup or so of flour on hand to absorb the excess moisture that the spinach adds. Here's my list of ingredients:
- 400g (appx 3 cups) of all purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped spinach
- 1 tsp table salt
- extra flour for dusting. lots of it. 2 cups or so, just in case.
First, prepare your spinach. The end result should have as little moisture as possible. I used frozen, organic spinach, which I dumped out into a pyrex and microwaved for about 3 minutes, or until it was not frozen anymore, but not hot. I then transferred it to my mini food processor to pulverize it more, taking care to squeeze out any excess moisture while transferring. After chopping it up further in the food processor, it will look something like this:
Rub the spinach between your fingers to see if there are any large pieces. If not, dump it onto either a double layer of cheesecloth or 4 layers of paper towels. Squeeze out any and all excess moisture.
The spinach should look like a cakey green lump. Throw that into the bowl of a stand mixer, or in the absence of one, a large mixing bowl. Add your egg, flour, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix this all up until the dough comes together.
Now, here comes the first in a series of step by steps. Ready?
Dump the dough out onto a well floured surface. My dough was still very tacky, so I had to incorporate more flour into it while I kneaded. Knead until the dough is uniform throughout not sticky at all and doesn't stick to the palm of your hands, like in the second to last picture. You'll see the color of the dough start to change and become a bright green. This took me quite a while.
Now, the rolling. Divide your dough into quarters. Each quarter will produce two sheets of dough.
With your hands, take one piece of dough and flatten it out into an oblong shape. Flour liberally. Starting at the 0 setting on your pasta machine, roll this out. Next, fold the sheet onto itself, like an envelope. This makes make nice, rectangular-shaped sheets, and also develops the gluten in the dough to make for a chewy pasta. Flatten this out with your fingers and re-run through the 0 setting.
Set your machine to 1, and run the dough through again. Flour. Then repeat at the 2 setting and flour. Then 3, etc, taking care to flour between each setting. At some point, around 4 or 5, the dough will get too long to comfortably handle. That's fine. cut it a little shorter, and proceed until the desired thinness is obtained. I like to go to 7 for pasta and 8 for lasagna sheets.
When your pasta is all rolled out, fold it a couple of times on itself and cut with a knife into long strands. Separate them out with your hands and then, you guessed it, flour.
Lastly, make your little "nests" of pappardelle. Lay the strands across your [floury, doughy] hand. Wrap the ends up, as if you are coiling headphone wires, or a small piece of rope. Once it's all coiled, lay it down on a floured surface. These are great for freezing, and make it easy to portion out single or double servings.