Food

Sfoglia Verde Agli Spinaci: An epic spinach pasta dough that you can turn into all your fave pasta shapes

Evan Funke and Katie Parla’s easy-to-follow recipe is your ticket to a big plate of fresh, vibrant pasta tonight.

Evan Funke and Katie Parla’s easy-to-follow recipe is your ticket to a big plate of fresh, vibrant pasta

(All photography by Eric Wolfinger)

Making fresh pasta from scratch is one of those activities that’s always near the top of our cold-weather bucket lists, but we never seem to have the time, confidence or necessary gadgets to actually cross it off. So if you’re anything like us, this simple spinach dough recipe and primer from Evan Funke and Katie Parla’s new cookbook American Sfoglino, may be the push in the right direction you’ve been waiting for. Not only do their step-by-step instructions help the whole process feel a lot less daunting, the recipe is incredibly versatile and can easily be morphed into whatever shapes you’re craving that day — whether you’re cooking for a whole crowd or settling in for a fancy meal for one. 

Sfoglia Verde Agli Spinaci | Spinach Dough

By Evan Funke with Katie Parla

Blanched spinach gives this dough, which is used for lasagna, balanzoni, and smeraldine, its vibrant green color. The first few times I worked with Spinach Dough, I found it very disorienting. I was accustomed to egg dough, which you can see through after rolling it past a certain point to assess how thick it is. When rolling Spinach Dough, take your time and use your sense of touch. Once you get a sense of how it feels when it’s the correct thickness, aim for that every time. This knowledge comes with practice. 

There’s no need here for fancy baby spinach—any type from your local supermarket will do. I even know a few home cooks in Bologna who use the precooked frozen stuff. If you’d like to do the same, defrost it, dry it very well, and substitute 65 g for the fresh spinach; no need to blanch it. Either way, process the spinach until very smooth so it doesn’t inhibit the dough’s gluten development.

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 250 g fresh spinach (see headnote for a frozen option)
  • 250 g eggs, beaten (extra-large eggs weigh about 60 g each without their shell)
  • 454 g “00” flour

Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season the water with salt. When the salt dissolves, working in batches to avoid overcrowding, add the spinach. Boil just until the stems soften, 30 to 40 seconds. Using a spider, remove the spinach and spread it on a tray. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Return the water to a boil before adding the next batch. When all the spinach is cooked and cool enough to handle, wrap it in a clean, dry dish towel and squeeze out all the excess water. The spinach must be very dry. 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the spinach and eggs. Process on high speed until smooth and bright green, about 2 minutes. 

Make the pasta dough: Sift the flour onto your work surface and make an 8-inch diameter well in the center. You should be able to see the work surface in the middle and the well’s walls should be high enough to contain the spinach mixture. 

Pour the spinach mixture into the well. Working from the interior edge of the well, use a fork to incorporate a bit of the flour with the mixture. Continue incorporating a bit of flour at a time until the interior edge of the well becomes thin and the dough is thick and has the consistency of pancake batter. Clean off any flour mixture stuck to the fork and add it to the dough. 

Using a bench scraper, scrape any flour from the work surface into the dough. Working in a clockwise motion, cut the dough together as though you are making biscuits: scrape, fold, and cut. Continue working the dough until a shaggy mass forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Parts of the mass will be rather wet, while other parts will be floury. Scrape any dough from the bench scraper into the mass. 

Knead the pasta dough: With both hands, pull the far end of the dough toward you quickly and energetically, fold it over itself, then push it away from you using the heels of your palms. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat the kneading until the dough is a compact mass, 3 to 5 minutes. The dough will be slightly tacky. Transfer the dough to a clean part of your work surface. 

Using the bench scraper, scrape any dry bits of dough from your work surface and discard. 

Wash, but do not dry, your hands and continue kneading the dough as before until it is relatively smooth with a cellulite-like texture, an indication of gluten formation, 3 to 5 minutes more. 

Wrap the dough tightly, seam-side up, in plastic wrap, smoothing out any air pockets. Set aside to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. 

Shape the pasta dough: Unwrap the dough. Halve it with a sharp knife, cutting in a sawing motion. On a lightly floured surface, knead one piece of dough energetically with both hands, anchoring the dough with your non-dominant hand as you pull the far end of the dough toward you, then press down, through, and away with your dominant hand. Turn the dough counterclockwise using your non-dominant hand, moving it in 1 to 2-inch increments as you knead, like the hours on a clock. 

If the dough feels too dry, spray it and your hands with water, a little at a time, until it has lost its dryness. If you are closing the round ball and find the folded end (back door) is not sealing, spray that with a touch of water to help it along. Continue kneading until the dough is soft and smooth all the way around, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Place each dough ball in the middle of its own piece of plastic wrap measuring about 12-inch square. Working with one ball at a time, pull one corner of the plastic wrap up and lay it over the ball. Then, turning and rotating as you go, make 15 to 20 tiny pleated folds of plastic, almost like a candy wrapper, until it is fully and tightly sealed. The plastic wrap will follow the contour of the dough, which will create even pressure and support from all sides and prevent a flat surface or hard edge from developing when wrapping the dough. Set the dough balls aside to rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, before rolling. 

The dough will keep, refrigerated and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Do not freeze. Before rolling, set the wrapped dough on the counter and let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. This is a must for refrigerated egg doughs.

Yield: Makes two 385 g pasta dough balls, serving 6


Excerpted from American Sfoglino. (©) 2019 by Evan Funke Katie Parla, and photographer, Eric Wolfinger. Reproduced by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

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