Yummy note: I feel that cooking is about having fun, trying new things, and getting your hands hands a little messy along the way. Sometimes I get in that never try anything new rut, and forget how exciting it is when you try a brand new recipe. That is why I love our Secret Recipe Club. This month I had Manu's Menu. Manu's site has a wide variety of recipes on her site, ranging from regional Italian dishes, to cake pops and cookies, to her daughter's adorable birthday party treats. My favorite parts of Manu's site are in the techniques and tips sections. Seriously check her site out and bookmark it for later! You will want to make your own pasta after you see how easy it is; it is just one of those things you should do once in a while.
My daughter and I had a free afternoon and it was perfectly open for making pasta. The weather could have cooperated a bit more with us, as it was a tad humid out, which seemed to take longer for our pasta to dry. Eh, either way, we had fun "squishing the dough" and "making noodles." We let it dry out a bit before using it for supper and it worked, plus it gave us time to start our sauce for it. This Spinach Pasta with Bolognese Sauce was a hit. Everyone, yes, all 4 of us in our family, ate it and enjoyed it. I think part of it was due to the kids enjoyed having a hand in making the noodles for our supper and it was a "cool"-ness factor I think for making green noodles. This dish had great color! Then we topped these noodles with an amazing rich bolognese sauce as well. These recipes resulted in a double win-win! I loved the chopped carrots in the bolognese as it added a slight sweetness to the dish, while the wine added more flavor depth than I have tried in some of my previous sauces.
Spinach Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
under the Green Egg Pasta Dough portion
5.25 ounces of fresh spinach
salt for seasoning
2-3 eggs (depending on how much moisture is in the dough)
10.5 ounces of flour (roughly about 2 or so cups)
Either follow Manu's directions here, or I happened to mix mine up in a blender. You need to wilt your spinach; all I did was throw it into a sauce pan with a little bit of salt and water and warmed it up for a few minutes, until it started to wilt. Cool the wilted spinach and squeeze out the water, getting out as much water as possible. Put the flour, wilted spinach, and eggs in a blender or food processor and mix. Once all ingredients are incorporated and looks crumbly, dump it out onto a floured surface and knead the pasta dough. It will take a few minutes, and you might need to adjust the consistency of the dough and add more flour, as the moisture from the spinach begins to incorporate into the dough. Do this process until you get a nice smooth dough and the spinach green color is prominent. Roll into a ball and cover it with cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. After the rest, roll out the dough and cut into smaller rectangular sheets to begin the passes through the pasta machine. NOTE: Manu has wonderful instructions here on how to prepare your dough and how to use it with your pasta machine, so I would check her site out here for instructions if you are new to pasta making. Once you have your thin sheets of pasta, send it through again to cut to desired noodles. Place cut noodles and gently separate into piles to dry.
In the meantime you could begin your sauce for the noodles. I picked this awesome bolognese recipe from Manu's site to pair it with. However, if you don't care for red sauces, or your are looking for something quick with your pasta, check out this fairly simple dish using a tuna and ricotta.
1 pound of ground beef
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 glass of good red wine
1 can of diced tomatoes (I happened to use a combination can of tomato and green chilies as that is what my kids and I accidentally opened and it still tasted great!)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
3 cups of water
In a large saucepan, drizzle in the olive oil and toss in the finely diced onion, carrot, and celery. Once they begin to soften a little, add in the ground beef. Stir well and continue to brown the meat. Once the meat is brown, add the red wine and scrap off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and turn the heat up some to burn off the alcohol, leaving the flavor behind. Add the salt, pepper, can of tomatoes, and water. Cover sauce and cook on low for about an hour. Keep the sauce simmering throughout this time. Stir occasionally. If it begins to thicken up too quick, you can turn the heat even lower and add in a little more water. Towards the end of your sauce time, you should start cooking your pasta, which didn't seem to take very long. Once again, Manu has a wonderful area set aside to just this, preparing pasta al dente. Spoon over your favorite pasta and top with a little cheese, if desired.
Manu, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Really, your nonna had to have been an amazing woman and cook, as this recipe took me to a little place of Italy without even leaving my kitchen!