This fresh pasta dough can be used to make Lasagna or flat ribbon pasta through a hand crank machine to make Fettuccine and Tagliatelle. Tastes great with my mushroom and garlic sauce.
MAKES approximately 1-1.25 kilograms pasta noodles
4 bunches spinach, stalks removed, washed and drained
4 cups Maida or all-purpose flour plus 2 cups for dusting
1/4 cup fine semolina (not essential but handy if working in humid conditions)
4 eggs, whisked
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hand crank pasta machine or a sharp cutting tool such as a non serrated kitchen knife, a pizza wheel
Most recipes will have you blanch the spinach and squeeze out all the water but you lose nutrients like vitamin B, C, folate and thiamin all of which are water-soluble. Blanching helps spinach to retain a perkier green color but as it will be boiled again later you will lose some color anyway.
Put ¼ cup of water into a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until completely dry, about 8 minutes. Turn from time to time to ensure leaves don't burn.
Cool then finely chop spinach.
Whisk eggs and spinach together.
Sift flour into a mound on a clean surface or use a Parat or large Thali.
Use your hand to make a well in the center. Pour spinach and egg mixture into the well.
Using a fork, gradually incorporate flour into spinach and egg mixture. When dough becomes sticky and thick remove the dough from the fork and use your fingers to knead flour into spinach mixture with fingers until dough is no longer sticky. Some pasta recipes recommend using both hands but in India we generally knead chappati dough with one hand until it has come together and then use both hands to vigorously knead the dough.
Add more flour as required. Form dough into a smooth ball.
Press your finger into the center of the ball of dough. If the dough clings to your finger and feels sticky you need to add more flour and knead the dough again.
Wrap the dough in plastic or put it in a zipped plastic bag and let it rest outside for 25 minutes. If its very hot and humid reduce this time to 15 minutes.
Dust your hands and a flat and clean surface with flour. Knead the dough again. Knead with the heel of your hand until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Cut dough into 4 pieces and cover with a damp kitchen towel if the weather is dry or a clean and dry cloth in humid weather.
Work with 1 piece of dough at a time. Dust the surface with flour and roll the roll into an oval shape about 5 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. Dust from time to time with flour to ensure the dough doesn't stick to the surface.
FOR HAND CRANK MACHINE PASTA:
Set rollers of your machine on widest setting. Ensure machine is screwed tightly to the surface you are working on. Set up a tray or a pasta drying stand to hang your noodles. If you are working in a hot and humid environment I would suggest turning on a fan.
Slowly lift the slightly rolled pasta. Hold one end and feed the other into the rollers. As it slides into the rollers continue to hold the other end so the pasta angle doesn't change. Roll it through 2-3 times. It will get smoother and longer.
Next decrease setting by 1 notch and repeat movement. With each notch the pasta will get thinner and longer. Depending on how many settings your machine has keeping reducing the thickness of the pasta. If you are planning to cut the sheets into flat, ribbon noodles do not make them too thin and possibly avoid the last 1 or 2 settings.
If at any point you find the pasta is getting damp sprinkle with flour or fine semolina before you run it through the rollers again.
Lay or hand pasta sheets. If damp sprinkle with some fine semolina or flour Cover pasta sheets with clean kitchen towels to keep from drying. Its important pasta doesn't dry before you cut it into shapes.
at this point the pasta can be used as sheets of lasagna.
To cut into Fettuccine or Taglierini set your pasta machine rollers accordingly and run the sheets through them. Place a tray under the machine to collect the feed of noodles. if you plan to cook them immediately toss the noodles with dry semolina or flour to prevent them from sticking.
Otherwise hang them to dry on a stand or lay them out on a tray to dry.
TO CUT PASTA BY HAND
Continue to dust and roll the pasta until you have a 10-11 inch long and 5 inch wide piece of dough. Gently roll the dough into a tube. Roll it loosely, don't press down on it. Using a sharp kitchen knife, a pizza wheel or a non serrated pastry cut slice through the roll to form long strips. You can cut the strips thick or thin depending on the kind of pasta you prefer. Shake open each strand. Hang or lay the dry.
The best way to dry pasta is in the open at room temperature. I don't recommend freezing freshly made pasta. You may as well by it from a store.
1 cup cooked egg Noodles