Spinach Pasta and Focaccia

Summer should be simple and satisfying.

We have been absolutely inundated with vegetables and greens lately. We belong to a wonderful local CSA (a share of community supported agriculture) and our share of the garden has been almost too much to eat between two people. Not kidding: we’ve received 10 pounds of  asparagus alone this summer!
After countless salads you start to crave something hearty and satisfying! But because winter was so long and grey, and because we have a certain wedding coming up, we promised each other we would cook / eat every single piece of produce the farm wanted to provide. [full disclosure, we did end up giving a friend 2 lbs of that asparagus!]
That brings us to tonight’s meal, a simple, fresh and satisfying spinach pasta with rosemary garlic focaccia. Adam made the bread the day before, so we went from from fresh spinach to garlicky, peppery pasta in about 15 minutes.

 Fresh Spinach Pasta
  • 1-2 Cups of flour
  • ~ 2 quarts of spinach leaves, blanched and dried
  • 1 extra large egg [I’ve been using 2 lately with the egg shortage and the size/quality going down]
  • Pink Peppercorns
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Hard Cheese [I used Asiago]

Start a pot of water with olive oil, after bringing to a boil add 1T salt or more. There is no salt in fresh pasta so you want a good salty water. I also drizzle a fair amount of olive oil onto the water because pasta water is a great sauce starter.

In a small bowl, break the egg into a well of about 1 cup of flour, add blanched spinach, and stir the center. Continue to work the egg into the flour from the inside moving out. This allows you to choose how much flour your egg wants, leaving the rest of the flour on the outside of the bowl if not needed. It is surprising how much variation there is from egg to egg and the impact that has on pasta making. So don’t worry about the measurements as much as the feel of the dough. Use a fork to press the dough into the bottom of the bowl like you are trying to press as much flour into the egg as possible. Once it has accepted about as much flour as I can push into it, I pick it up to check the consistency and form into a rough ball.The dough should be very dense and heavy, not like a bread dough at all. It may be lumpy but don’t worry about it. If you knead the bread and it gets sticky, add even more flour and continue to knead until it is dry on the outside but still holding together. Wrap the ball of flour in plastic and let set for 15-30 minutes for easy rolling.

If you’re in a hurry, like I was, you can roll immediately. Just be prepared to deal with some unruly dough and add lots of flour to the pasta machine, er, the whole kitchen. I make an absolute mess rolling pasta on my 12 x 30 inch counter where my pasta machine is attached. it was the only place in the kitchen that had enough overhang to attach the clamp, and not that we much more counter space anywhere else, but flour generally ends up all over the stove, the floor, the dogs, etc. You get the picture. So if you think you are making a mess you are probably doing it right.

Roll through the pasta machine until desired thickness and cut into fettuccine. [For more on pasta making see this post]. Toss into the very hot, salty, olive oily water. Cook for about 2 minutes. Pull the pasta out of the water with a ladle and into a bowl so it is still pretty wet and the pasta water is reserved. Pull about 1 cup of pasta water into a small bowl, add 3 cloves of minced garlic with a garlic press and stir. Pour over pasta. Add fresh ground, pink peppercorns and hard cheese to taste. Serve with Rosemary Focaccia below.

Rosemary Forcaccia image
  • 3 Cups of flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt, or sea sall, more for the top
  • Rosemary
  • Olive Oil, lots

Dissolve 1T sugar in to 1C warm water and sprinkle 1 tablespoon yeast on the surface. I use a Kitchenaid stand mixer dough hook on speed 2 while adding 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cups of flour. Once it forms a wet dough, add 1 teaspoon salt and some fresh rosemary sprigs. Add 1 more cup of flour slowly, until it barely stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. It should be slightly sticky but not too firm.  This is a very soft dough, and you want to add as little flour as possible. Knead about 8-12 minutes. Turn of the stand mixer and form into a ball with olive oily hands. Drizzle dough generously with olive oil and roll in olive oil to coat both sides. Cover with a hot damp towel and let rise however long you have, but at least 20 mins. Try not to punch down and gently press into a loose rectangle on an air filled cookie sheet. Pour the remaining oil from the bowl on top – add more if needed. Make finger dents to pool the oil. Let rise about 20 mins again (or a little less if you are rushed), sprinkle generously with kosher salt and do a slight dusting of garlic powder. Add more rosemary sprigs to the top.

The longer this can rise once a rectangle on the pan and the more olive oil pooled in the divots the better.  I bake at a preheated 415 for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot. Enjoy on the deck.

Kate & Adam

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