This is still the only way two of my kids will eat spinach. The amount of spinach you
use will depend on how green you’d like the end result to be. On St. Patrick’s Day,
we use a lot! This also makes a great rainy day activity. Kids love turning the crank
on our Atlas pasta machine. To them, it’s like playing with Play-Doh. Note that the
instructions call for using all-purpose flour instead of semolina or whole wheat.
I find the all-purpose flour imparts a more delicate flavor and texture, allowing
the spinach to take center stage. This recipe is good for making a batch of lasagna
noodles, spaghetti, fettucine or ravioli.
1 pound (about 3.8 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for handling dough
4 large eggs
1 small bunch spinach (at least 1 1/2 cups of firmly packed leaves).
- Thoroughly wash spinach to remove any grit. Remove stems and chop roughly. Fill a saucepan with 1/2 inch of water, bring it to a boil, and add spinach. Cover and let the spinach boil for a couple of minutes, until the leaves are fully cooked but still bright green. (It’s okay to cook it longer, but not necessary). Remove from heat, drain in a colander, and rinse with cold water to arrest cooking.
- Once the spinach is cool, pick it up by fistfuls, squeezing out any excess water, and transfer it to a food processor or blender. Puree spinach for about 10 seconds, until smooth.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until yolks and whites are well blended. Add the cooled, pureed spinach and combine well.
- In a large bowl, shape one pound of flour into a mound. Using your fist, create a deep well in the center of the mound.
- Carefully pour the wet mixture into the well. Holding a fork parallel to the work surface, gently whisk the wet mixture into larger and larger circles, incorporating more and more flour as you go. When the flour is mostly incorporated and the fork is no longer effective, use your hands to finish combining. Gather the dough, transfer it to a floured work surface and knead gently until it is of a uniform consistency. Cover the dough with a dishcloth.
- Set yourpasta machine to the widest setting (1) and clear off any dried bits of dough from the work surface. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, generously flour the dough and roll or press it flat enough to go through the rollers easily. Generously flour the dough again, fold it in half or in thirds, flatten it, and send it through the widest setting again. Repeat this process eight more times, flouring the dough as needed to ensure it does not stick to the rollers, and brushing off any dried dough bits as you go. At the end of this process, you should have a smooth, fairly dry, manageable ribbon of dough with bits of spinach visible.
- Cover the ribbon of dough with a towel and let it rest while you repeat step 6 for the remaining dough, working with one portion at a time and keeping the dough covered when not working with it.
- Return to the first portion of dough. Set the machine to the next setting (2) and run the first portion through the rollers. Flour it, fold it in half, and run it through setting 2 again.
- Advance the wheel to setting 3. Still working with the same portion of dough, repeat step 8 for each successive setting, until the desired thickness is reached (in my case, setting 7 is too thin, so I stop at 6). By now, you should have a smooth, wide, dry ribbon of green dough. Lay the ribbon on a floured towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the remaining dough, working with one portion at a time. At this point, you can run each wide ribbon of dough through the cutters to make fettucine or spaghetti, or keep them wide and cut them into roughly 6-inch squares to use for lasagna. Either way, let the finished pasta dry for about an hour before cooking.
- When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta in batches until al dente (except for lasagna noodles, which need only be cooked for about two minutes before assembling the rest of the recipe).
- The cooking time will vary according to how thick the noodles are, and how long they air-dried. The fresher the pasta, the more quickly it will cook.