Food Epiphany

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Making Pasta

Last week I pretty well stuck to my planned menu, but I didn’t get to the pumpkin! This week I hope. I have been making a lot more things from scratch and also wanting to put things up for the time this year when we don’t have fresh tomatoes and other lovely things. One of the best things was the spinach pasta with goat cheese gratin. This was the second time I’ve made it and everyone seemed to really like it. I have to say that I usually need to add a lot of salt at the table, but Alec says that I am a little heavy on the salt…I have to disagree!

Alec helped out by running the spinach pasta through the machine. We didn’t use the entire pound the recipe called for so we froze the rest. I’m often unsure of how to store things so I just throw it in the freezer and hope for the best. Making pasta is kind of fun, but also a bit messy, time-consuming, and equipment dependent. We bought our pasta maker at a garage sale so it wasn’t a huge investment, but it does take up valuable real estate in our small kitchen. The recipe was two parts (okay maybe three): one make the pasta, two make the bechamel sauce, and three assemble the “Tossed Spinach Lasagne and Goat Cheese Gratin” by who else, but Deborah Madison. 

Fresh Spinach Pasta

2 cups flour

2 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups washed and dried spinach leaves

In the food processor: First combine the spinach leaves with the eggs and puree them until they are liquidy. Pour the spinach mixture into a bowl, wash and dry the food processor. Next, combine the flour and salt and turn on the motor. Add the oil through the feeder then the spinach mixture. Work until little pealike particles are formed, then turn the dough out, gather it and form it into a ball, and knead until smooth and pliant. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. 

Flatten the dough out with your hands to make pieces that will fit though your machine. Set the machine to the widest setting and feed the dough through once. Now fold the dough into thirds, press down and excessively thick parts, and run it through again, repeat till dough is smooth four or five times. Go to the next notch in the machine and roll the dough through. Turn the gear to the next notch and continue rolling through once at each setting (ours only has three settings) but don’t use the last setting as it is too thin, especially for this recipe. 

At this point you may want to cut the pieces using one of the cutting attachments on your machine (our has fettucini and spaghetti) but this recipe calls for wide shortish noodles, so you can cut them by hand with a knife. You can cook this pasta right away or set it aside to dry and cook it the next day.

Tossed Spinach Lasagne with Goat Cheese Gratin (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

1 pound fresh spinach pasta

2 cups bechamel

1/2 cup cream

8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Make the pasta dough and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly butter a 3-quart gratin dish.

Make the bechamel. Add the cream and goat cheese to the sauce. Don’t worry about the lumps of cheese–they’re wonderful to bite into.

At this point I throw the pasta into the boiling water for just a minute or two (make sure you salt the water), then drain the pasta and put in a large bowl. Combine with the bechamel mixture and add the thyme, pepper, and all but two tablespoons parmesan. Pile it into the gratin dish and cover with the remaining cheese. Bake until bubbling and browned on the top, 30-40 minutes.

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