While most eleven and twelve year olds were busy filling their spare time with extracurricular activities and watching tween television, I was busy cooking up a storm and watching the Food Network. My love for cooking started at an age so young, I can’t even pinpoint the exact year. When my girlfriends would stay over for sleepovers, I would whip up eggs benedict or biscuits and gravy for the whole crew in the morning. At my parents’ dinner parties, I’d always volunteer to make a few contributions in the food department. It’s always been where I shined. I was never good at softball, nor did I like sweating by butt off in 100-degree heat – plus sporting a giant helmet wasn’t really my thing. I couldn’t kick a soccer ball for the life of me. And in the five years this five foot zero girl played basketball, I made one measly basket – I got a standing ovation.
When I was 10, 11 or even younger (I can’t quite remember), I tried fresh pasta for the first time and instantly fell in love with the texture. I already had a serious love for pasta, but tasting fresh pasta for the first time ignited a whole other level love – my next birthday, I asked for a pasta machine.
I loved that pasta machine, and still have the same one to this day. It’s one of those old fashioned, hand-cranked machines, and even though I have a Kitchen Aid that would facilitate in an expedited process, I sort of enjoy the time and effort it takes using my old one.
Unfortunately in the last year, my life has been exponentially busier than it has in the past. Keeping a full-time job and a growing blog while maintaining friendships and not neglecting my husband or family has proven to be quite the daunting task. My weekends were full of recipe developing and freelance projects, and even most of my weeknights were spent on the computer or photographing food late into the night. Things are changing though. I’ve slowly started to cut back on my hours at my day job, only working three days a week this month. It will taper off to a full transition into blogging in the next couple months, but in the meantime, the extra couple of days have allowed me to get back into the kitchen and cook dishes I haven’t had the time for in the past year.
The first item on my list – fresh pasta.
The process couldn’t be easier. Blanched spinach is tossed in the food processor with some all purpose flour and salt. It’s pulsed until the spinach is incorporated and the flour is slightly aerated. With the mixer on you add in your eggs and egg yolks one at a time, followed by the oil. I keep the mixer on for a minute or two until everything is combined and the dough starts to come together.
The mixture will be relatively crumbly, but if you grab a handful and it allows you to form it into a ball, it’s done. I formed the dough into ten balls and then covered them with a kitchen towel.
Set your pasta machine to the widest setting and then with a rolling pin, slightly roll out your first ball into a rectangle. Feed the dough through the machine. Once it’s through, fold the dough over itself in thirds (see picture), and feed through again. Fold the dough over itself one more time so the edges are all straight (see picture) and feed through the machine again. After that, you just feed the dough through the machine, lowering by one setting each time until you reach two (one for fettuccine or spaghetti).
Pasta complete! At this point you will cut them pasta into whatever shape you like, I was making lasagna so I left them as is. Be sure to stayed tuned in on Friday to see what I did with it! It happens to be one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever made…..
- 3½ cups all purpose flour
- 6 ounces spinach
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fill a small saucepan with water. Bring to a simmer. Add spinach. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute or until wilted. Transfer to ice water to shock. Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach.
- In a food processor, add flour, salt and spinach. Pulse until spinach is completely incorporated.
- With the mixer on, add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time until combined. Add oil. Pulse until dough starts to come together. (It will be shaggy)
- Form the dough into ten balls and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Working with one ball at a time, use a rolling pin to roll dough out to a small rectangle. Feed through your pasta maker, with it set at the widest setting.
- Fold the dough in thirds over itself and run through the machine on the widest setting again.
- Fold over into thirds one more time to make sure the edges are straight, feed through the machine at it's widest setting.
- Keep feeding the dough through the pasta machine lowering the settings one by one until you reach a two.
- Set pasta sheet aside and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Repeat with remaining balls.
- Cut into desired shape.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt water. Add pasta in, and cook until soft, about two minutes.