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Monday, July 14, 2014

Fresh Mustard Greens Pasta

This seems to be the summer of the gifted greens. A neighbor down the street, friend across town, and family growing vegetables on a nearby hill have all gifted us bowls of summer greens. They tell us they planted too much, don't want it to go to the deer and rabbits, or arn't craving crunchy lettuce this week.  Of course, we always say yes and enjoy every bite.

Nick was inspired by a recent bunch of mustard greens to try a Fresh Mustard Greens Pasta. It came out perfectly and is an ideal summer dinner. I was always intimidated by making fresh pasta at home but Nick's confidence has made me realize it really is as easy as they say. You won't know until you try it - so you should try it. Our garden is definitely not overflowing with beautiful lettuces and greens but does have some pretty darn good lavender. We snipped some bunches this week, tied them up, and hid them around the house and in the bottom of the new (old) car we bought.

Fresh Mustard Greens Pasta

1 1/2 cups chopped raw mustard greens leaves
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
water (only if absolutely needed)
additional flour for rolling

Rip mustard greens leaves from the stems, wash, and while still wet, wilt in a hot skillet until completely soft, about 4 minutes. Let cool and wring out all the water — this is very important. Use your hands and squeeze squeeze squeeze. Finely chop the cooked greens.

Dump mustard greens, flour, and salt on countertop and mix with your fingers, then form into a pile. Make a deep well in the center and add the whole eggs and yolks to it. Use your fingertips to break up the eggs and begin moving your fingers in a circular motion, keeping the eggs within the center. Each circular movement pulls in a little bit of flour from the sides. In a few minutes, the mixture will become thicker and thicker, finally becoming too tight to move easily with your fingers. At this point, you can use a bench scraper or spatula to start adding the remaining, a little pile at a time. Once a rough dough has formed, begin kneading the mixture, scraping it up when it sticks, until a ball is formed. It will look flaky but will hold together.

Knead the dough, pressing it away with the heels of your hands then forming it back into a blob, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough is moist but not sticky. Add extra flour, a spoonful at a time, only if dough is too sticky. Add a drop or two of water only if it’s cracking when you knead it. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again for 5 to 8 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest at room temperature for an hour.

Divide dough into thirds. On a floured surface, roll the pasta as thin as you can; as thin as a newspaper and translucent is ideal (with either a rolling pin or pasta machine). You can either cut the pasta sheets with a sharp knife or use a machine to make your shape. Don't worry about it too much - you can cut long pasta, 1" long rectangles, or triangles. 

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling. The cooking time will depend on the thickness but can range from 2-6 minutes. Drain and toss with fixings of your choice — garlic-sizzled olive oil or melted butter, parmesan or pecorino, dollops of ricotta or mascarpone. Eat immediately.

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