Thursday, January 7, 2016

Artisan Pasta Class: Hand-Rolled, Hand-Cut Spinach Papardelle

I am taking a three-part artisan pasta class. Yesterday was our first session. My über-talented and amazing friend from college is now leading future culinary artists at a local high school. So, for three Wednesdays, I'll be there with other pasta-loving gals, learning to make pasta. Jenn teased about me taking her class; "You could teach this class," she joked. Nah...there's always something to learn and I was quite inspired last night. 
In roughly three hours we made two different kinds of homemade pasta, two different kinds of homemade sauce, we socialized, we drank coffee and tea, and we ate a plate of pasta before we all went our separate ways. Did I mention she's amazing?!?

She provided recipes from Making Artisan Pasta by Aliza Green. Click to read my post about that: here. I went home, dug my copy off the shelf and read it, cover to cover, last night.

But what I'm sharing here is because I learned three things last night. Or rather because these were three 'never have I ever's.

Never have I ever made pasta dough in a bowl! I always make it on a cutting board with parchment paper; it's a mess. A bowl. Why didn't I think of that?

Never have I ever I made spinach pasta. I've made cuttlefish ink pasta and beet pasta, but never spinach. It's a gorgeous, emerald green that looks like jade. I doubt I'll ever make plain pasta again. Maybe that's a wee bit hyperbolic, but now that I know how to make fresh spinach pasta, it will be on my table more often.

Never have I ever made pasta using a flour blend. I have always made my pasta with 100% semolina flour. After trying the flour blend - that included semolina, all-purpose, and durum flours - I am a convert. The blend results in a finer, less heavy bite.

You can roll this pasta in a pasta machine, but I was intrigued by hand-rolling and hand-cutting mine.
And one more note: Jenn teaches by weight measurements, not volume! I know, I know. It's more precise. I will be better about weighing certain ingredients!

Hand-Rolled, Hand-Cut Spinach Papardelle

  • 170 g baby spinach leaves, washed and destemmed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 275 g Pasta Flour Blend* + more for rolling
  • 1/2 C cold water
  • Also needed: rolling pin

*Pasta Flour Blend 169 g all-purpose flour; 86 g durum flour; 86 g semolina flour


Pour cold water into a wide pot and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and wilt, turning frequently so the spinach cooks evenly. Cook for a minute longer so that the spinach is soft but still bright green. Turn spinach into a colander (you can place a bowl below to collect the cooking water for cooking your pasta later!). Shock it with cold water to set the color then squeeze as much water from the spinach as you can and press it into a small ball. Chop roughly then place spinach and eggs in the food processor. Process until fine. 

I do not have a food processor at home. So, for future batches, I will use a blender or just do a really diligent chopping job. The idea is to break up the fibers of the spinach as much as possible so you don't have any strings in your pasta.

Spoon the pasta flour blend into a large mixing bowl and make a hollow in the center, like a volcano. Spoon the spinach-egg mixture into the crater of the flour volcano.

Use a fork to begin incorporating the flour. Making a whisking motion with your fork, starting in the middle and blending in the flour from the bottom moving upwards. If your dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour; if your dough is too dry and crumbly, add water 1 t at a time.

Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted board and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Roll the dough into a tight ball then place dough in a bowl covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

To roll: Slice your dough ball into quarters. Cover the portions you aren't rolling. Turn the rested dough out onto a lightly dusted board and roll out as thinly as you can. I found that rolling it into a long rectangle make the most even strips. 

Once the pasta dough is as thin as you can get it, starting at one (short) end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a cylinder.

With a sharp knife, hand cut the roll into pieces whose width is the width you want for your pasta. I went with wide papardelle. Carefully unroll the strips and you're all set.

To cook: drop the pasta strips into boiling water. They will cook in about 3 minutes. I served this with a fresh pesto (for myself and for the Enthusiastic Kithen Elf) and alfredo (for Jake and for the Precise Kitchen Elf).

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