Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adventures in Pasta - Spinach Manicotti

When I was at the grocery store a few days ago, I was struck with the idea to make manicotti for dinner this week, so I bought the manicotti shells, ricotta cheese, and sauce. When manicotti night came, though, I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to try out making homemade pasta for the first time. I found a very simple recipe for spinach pasta and set out on my experiment. It was a complete success! The pasta was so simple to make, with just a few ingredients. It was a little time consuming, but I feel like it was completely worth the effort. I think in all, dinner took about an hour and a half to prepare (and another hour to cook), but that was factoring in my complete unpreparedness, having to clean off a spot to make the pasta, and not completing steps in a time saving order. I am so excited with the possibilities of what I can create. I already have a recipe in my head, using leftover split pea soup from the weekend. I didn't thin the soup enough and it turned out more like split pea pasta (tasty, but thick) so it should make a super yummy ravioli filling.

Here is the recipe I (loosely) followed for the spinach pasta. To prepare this for manicotti,I boiled a large pot of water (salted) and dropped each rectangular slice into the boiling water. I had to boil in two batches. Be careful not to overcook it, 2 minutes should be plenty of time. I removed it from the water, spooned filling down the middle and rolled them up.

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 cup frozen spinach
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1. Combine spinach and water in a saucepan. Cover, and cook till spinach is very tender. Cool slightly. Carefully remove as much water as you can from the spinach. I press it against the side of the pan with a spatula to squeeze / drain the water out, and do a little blotting with a paper towel.
2. Place spinach and water in blender container. Add egg and salt. Cover, and blend till smooth. Transfer to a bowl. I used my KitchenAid, rather than mix / knead by hand. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. I started off with 1 1/4 cup flour, but ended up adding almost another cup before the dough wasn't sticky. I think this will vary depending on how much water you remove from your cooked spinach.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 1 minute. Roll very thin on a floured surface, as thin as possible without tearing (I was aiming for the thickness of a dime).Slice as desired. I sliced mine into rectangles. Take care not to allow the pasta to stick together after you cut it. I carefully laid mine out while I boiled by water.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour