Do you have a pasta maker at home? Why not set it up on your bench and make something different you won’t see at many supermarkets? This exciting pasta verde – or green pasta – is made by adding cooked greens to the mixture, and adds colour, texture and moisture to the dough. It is fun making pasta at home, and the use of free range, or farm fresh organic hen eggs and homegrown silver beet or spinach takes the goodness factor up a notch.
240g ’00’ flour
2 large free range eggs
1/4 cup cooked, finely chopped greens: start with a large bunch dark leafy spinach or silver beet
Reserved greens cooking water
Cook the greens, drain. Squeeze out all remaining water, reserving a tablespoon of coloured water – it should have quite a dark green tinge. Finely chop the greens or process them to a pulp in a food processor.
Place the sifted flour in a large wide bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and greens, and a tablespoon of the greens water. Mix wet ingredients together well first, then gradually bring the flour into the centre until it is fully incorporated. Add a little more water or flour at this stage – if required – to reach the desired consistency.
Turn the ball out onto a lightly floured bench and knead to form a smooth, elastic dough. Rest for 20 minutes under clingfilm. Cut the dough into six equal segments, and flatten them with your palm. Pass each piece through the rollers on the widest setting; then fold it over onto itself in thirds, like an envelope. Still on the widest setting, roll it through again at 90 degrees to the previous pass. Repeat five to six times until the dough is pliable and smooth: this activates the gluten, improves texture and increases elasticity. Pass each piece through in this way.
Roll each piece through the pasta rollers, now gradually reducing the thickness one number at a time, until you reach the desired setting. For this recipe I made pappardelle on setting number 8: being 2-3cms wide, it is ideal for pasta verde. You can then use a pasta wheel and a metal rule to cut long strips and hang them to dry for two days in a dry airy spot, or cook them immediately in rapidly boiling salted water (1 tsp salt per litre of water) for 3-4 minutes until ‘al dente’, or with a slight ‘tooth’ in the centre. Toss through your favourite sauce and top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs.