The downside of technological advances and the comfort that they provide us is that we have started to take it for granted and do not appreciate or take the effort to actually know how it was all done back in the day. And believe me, in the age of frozen foods and vegetables, ready to eat foods, store bought bread and all the varieties of pizza crusts, pie crusts and pastas to choose from, one would only be amazed, amused, and at least at a loss of words at how much different they taste from the stuff that is made right at home, right from the scratch. No wonder whenever I watched MasterChef and other shows before, the contestants were always encouraged to make everything from the scratch. At least they had the liberty to use equipments like pasta rollers and KitchenAid for their cooking ventures, but right now I have none of those. But I feel very proud to have made my first ever hand cut pasta at home, without any equipment! Pretty Awesome innit?!
Homemade Spinach Pasta (Whole Wheat) with Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Nick @ Macheesmo
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
A pinch of Salt
2 tablespoons Oil
4 Tablespoons Water
1 cup chopped Spinach
For the Sauce
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
Mixed dried Italian Herbs
Cheese for garnish.
Prep The Spinach. I actually decided to try this recipe coz I have Spinach juice amongst others on a daily basis and I would always throw away the residual Spinach after the juice was squeezed out, with a heavy heart. What I did was that I just took out the juice of 1 cup Spinach in my juicer and then used the residue for this recipe, chopped it up real fine and threw away the unnecessary bits. What you guys could do is just finely chop the spinach or even a small whiz in the grinder would do well. But remember to keep this chopped spinach on a kitchen towel or paper napkin so the moisture gets absorbed.
Now pour everything into the well gently. Try not to spill it.
Now you need to beat this gently, incorporating the flour into it, a little at a time, and then you can stop using the fork and get your hands in and start kneading. Remember, you need to add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Whole Wheat Flour absorbs more water than normal All Purpose, so you might need a tablespoon or two extra. Do not fret :) Just use your judgment and keep kneading till it finally starts getting together.
At one point it might seem like its all going downhill, like a dry giant mess which would never come together, but trust me and trust yourself, just keep kneading and it will come together. Mine took about 20 mins of kneading to get 3 balls of dough, I could not make one! The right consistency of the dough is when you pinch it between your thumb and index finger, the dough should stick to each other but not to your fingers, without falling apart. Like mighty putty :P
Now put these lovelies in a covered container and let them rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator so the dough relaxes. Thereafter remove it and let it rest an additional 15 minutes so that the dough comes to room temperature. Now it's time to roll!
You need to roll this dough into long sheets so that makes it easier to cut your pasta. Use flour to dust the surface as and when you need it. This dough is pretty elastic! Then you can cut it into any pasta shape you like. I rolled my sheet and cut it into fettuccine! Super fun.
Once I cut them, I unrolled and let them hang and dry for 15 minutes before I started cooking them.
Cooking the pasta : This pasta cooks much quicker than the pasta from the packet. Mine took 6 minutes only. Boil lots of water with some salt in a deep pan, and till then you can work on gathering these beautiful strands of pasta and get ready for the big show :)
And once they're cooked they will look so beautiful, shiny and you can totally taste the difference while you're checking if they have been cooked. Reserve some pasta water, around 1/2 cup, and drain the rest of the water.
In another pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of Oil and when it gets hot, add in the red pepper flakes, herbs, salt and Cherry Tomatoes. I added them whole, but I really recommend that you slice them into halves and use the tomato-ey juices coz they give the pasta a better flavor! Mix it all up well, and garnish with cheese. This recipe does not need cheese coz it is good by itself, but come on, what is Pasta without a little cheese! :D