I'm not gonna lie to you. Making homemade pasta can be very time consuming. How time consuming depends on the shape. Today, I'm going to walk you through a basic spinach pasta dough recipe. Once the dough is made, you can process it into any shaped pasta you please. If you want something fast, you can go for fettuccini (or even taglioni - wide ribbons - if you don't have a pasta machine). I'm going to show you how to make farfalle pasta, aka bowties. This may be one of the most time consuming pasta shapes to make. Why do I still do it occasionally? Because they're so darn cute and they make a wonderful gift.
The first step in making spinach pasta is preparing the spinach puree. I often think about making this dough after I realise I bought a bag of spinach and then forgot to use it before it started getting a little funky around the edges. Not all of the spinach is bad, so I dump the bag into a sink full of water. This allows me to pick out the nasty pieces and rinse off any goo left behind from those nasty pieces. You can, of course, use fresh, beautiful spinach; I - unfortunately - am never that organized.
In my experience, you'll want to avoid using frozen spinach or spinach that is too mature because it is too fibrous and will not puree well enough and you could end up with fibers that don't cut easily, making it very hard to form the pasta. Not good.
Prepare a pan with a steamer insert and a little water. Steam the spinach until it is evenly wilted.
Then put the spinach into a food processor. You can add some water to help it puree. You'll have to let it drain regardless, so you might as well make your life easier. Once the spinach is nice and smooth, spoon it into a fine mesh sieve and let it sit and drain for a few hours. At this point, you can continue with the recipe or freeze the puree for later use. Since the recipe requires one half cup of puree, I freeze cups with that premeasured amount.
When you get ready to make the pasta dough itself, place the ingredients together in a stand mixer. You could, of course, mix this by hand, but that certainly sounds like a lot of effort to me! Especially with this dough. For some time, you're going to look at this mixture and wonder how it is ever going to come together, it looks so dry. You'll be sorely tempted to add some water. Don't!
Just give it a little more time and it will turn into a beautiful, green dough. This is a fairly soft dough to begin with, so if you add any extra water you will really be in a world of hurt. In fact, once it comes together, if it's still tacky, you may want to add a little extra flour. Knead for an additional 4-5 minutes after the dough comes together. Take the dough out and pat it into a ball. Spray a little oil on a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the dough up to sit for a couple of hours before continuing.
Notice that after the dough rests, it will look a lot more workable. Divide the dough into six even pieces. At this point, you could roll it out with a rolling pin as thin as you can and cut it into strips with a pizza cutter. It will be delicious. If you want to go a little more gourmet, pull out the pasta roller. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer with the pasta roller attachment. It comes with a flat roller, a spaghetti roller, and a fettuchini roller. When making faralle, or bowties, I only use the flat roller. As I mentioned before, this dough is fairly soft and sticky, so have plenty of flour on hand. It will make a fine fettuchini, but I don't recommend trying to make spaghetti or any other "fine" pastas.
Take one of the pieces and dust it liberally with flour. Run it through the pasta roller until it is flat and fairly thin. Don't go too thin or you will have a mess. Bowties are usually a fairly thick pasta and that's a really good thing with this somewhat challenging to roll pasta dough (compared to plain old egg pasta dough, anyway). With my KitchenAid roller, I go up to setting six. Then lay the sheet down on a floured counter. I like to use semolina flour at this point because it keeps things from sticking without making my pasta all white. Also, if you have a lot of all purpose flour stuck to your pasta when it dries, it can get a little gummy when it cooks.
Lay the sheet out and use a pizza roller to cut long strips about 3/4 to 7/8 of an inch wide. Then use a ravioli cutter (with fluted edges) to cut the ribbons into individual pieces about 1 3/8 inch long. Have a large sheet tray with a parchment liner ready to accept your finished farfalle.
For each piece, squeeze the middle together until it sticks, forming that classic shape.
The pieces can then be transferred onto your sheet tray to dry. Let them sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours or until they are nice and brittle. Then place them in an airtight container for storage. They are best used within 2 to 3 months. When you go to prepare them, I find that homemade pasta tends to cook more quickly than store bought, so check for doneness early.
Yield: about 1 pound of pasta
1/2 cup of drained spinach puree (from about 6 oz fresh spinach)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Add all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix and knead on fairly low speed 3-4 minutes after the dough finally comes together. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with a little cooking spray, place the dough inside and wrap up. Let dough sit and rest for 2 hours. After it has rested, divide dough into six pieces and shape as desired. Use semolina flour to prevent sticking. Finished pasta can be frozen or dried to prolong storage.
Here's a picture of what the finished farfalle looked like when I was packaging it to sell. This pasta makes a great gift that anyone would be happy to receive!