Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Spinach Pasta

As promised yesterday, we will be using up some of the ridiculous surplus in my garden.  I feel bad being upset but an excess of produce, as only two months ago I was struggling to find anything green to eat at all and was extolling the virtues of dandelions as a food source.  I feel ungrateful to my garden for all it's providing, but at the same time I've got nothing to do with it and it's going bad.  Note to self, less lettuce next year!

I'm looking for ways to prepare bitter lettuce - especially ways to prepare it that can be frozen and eaten later on.  I'm not having crazy amounts of success, but I'm looking and I'm sure I'll find something.  Until then, I'm going to move forward with the things I do know what to do with.  It is my goal to have a freezer packed to the brim at the end of fall, and to have real food to eat all winter long.  Hopefully I can also do some canning, which I have no experience with, because I'm sure the freezer isn't big enough to fit a Wisconsin winter's worth of meals...
Massive pile of spinach.  This ended up being
eight cups of leaves total.

I'm starting off with what I know.  At least, then, I know that won't go to waste.

I looked at a lot of recipes for spinach pasta in the process of creating this one.  Most of them had you start with a package of frozen spinach.   The ones that included fresh spinach had you blanching it and then squeezing out and throwing away all the water.  That water is where all the nutrients go, so I didn't want to lose it.  In the below recipe, I'm basically steaming the spinach to get it soft and to get the water out of it, and then incorporating the water back into the dough.  If you want to try this using frozen spinach, it looks like you want about a 10 oz bag.  You'll also probably need another egg or 2, because you're not going to have the cooking water.

Spinach Pasta

Spinach wilting in the pot

  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh spinach leaves (L*)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups flour (L)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs (L)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • additional water if necessary
 Pour water into a large pot with spinach, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until spinach is well wilted.  Remove spinach and thoroughly squeeze out all the water.  I started with 1/4 cup of water, and ended with just over 1/2 a cup.  Reserve water!  Once the spinach is all squeezed out, you should have a ball about the size of a Jumbo size egg.

Two large eggs of spinach
Combine spinach, one cup flour, and salt in a food processor, and process until spinach is well broken down and combined with the flour - about 3 minutes.  I did this originally with just the spinach, and I found that it I got better results when I added a little bit of the flour as well.

Transfer spinach/flour mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add remaining flour, and eggs, and mix on low speed.  Once the flour, eggs, and spinach are well combined (the mixture should look like wet cornmeal or sand), drizzle in the oil.  Then, slowly add the spinach cooking water, allowing the dough to mix in between additions.  Once the dough starts to stick together, stop adding water and allow to mix until all the dough sticks together.  If you need to add more water to get this to happen, do so.

Once the dough is in one big ball, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until well combined.  Allow to rest for about 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, before rolling out depending on your pasta maker's instructions.

Pasta can be frozen easily, by allowing it to dry (please see my picture: pasta drying racks are for wimps!) for about 10 minutes, and then placing into a freezer bag with as little air as possible.

My pasta drying rack is cookie cooling racks, balanced on top of
boxes of cereal.

 I haven't actually eaten any of this pasta yet.  Notes on how good it is when I try some!

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