Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fresh Pasta with Prawns & Spinach in a Garlic-Oregano Cream Sauce

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 bunch of spinach, cooked and drained
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 to 8 roma tomatoes, skins removed and seeded
1 1/2 T fresh chopped oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound prawns, peeled, veins removed and tail off
1 cup heavy cream

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Ingredients for the pasta:
3 cups flour
4 large whole eggs

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1/2 cup shaved parmesan

Preparing the sauce:
Place a large skillet over high heat. Add one tablespoon of vegetable or corn oil. When the oil starts to shimmer add prawns one by one. Sear, but don't crowd the pan. Cook on each side for about 30 seconds.

Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add some vegetable or corn oil and then add, in this order: the yellow onions, tomatoes and oregano. Cook until the onions become soft and the tomatoes slightly break down.

Add the garlic and stir into mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add wine. Let wine cook out, about 5 more minutes. Pour in cream, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 15 more minutes or until cream starts to thicken.

Finish the sauce by adding the spinach, prawns, salt and pepper. Toss until combined.

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Preparing the pasta:
By hand: Make a mound of 3 cups of the flour on a clean table top, and shape it into a ring with a crater in the middle. Put the whole eggs (and oil if using) in the crater, and using a fork, beat them gently to combine the white and yolk. Gradually mix flour from the inside of the wall into the eggs, using a circular motion, and taking care not to breach the wall. When the mixture gets thick enough it won’t run out, tumble in the rest of the flour, and using fingertips and palms, combine into a somewhat crumbly paste. If too sticky, add a little more of the reserved flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If too dry, a squirt from spray bottle of water can be used to good effect. Scrape all the bits stuck to the board, wash your hands, and knead the dough on a lightly floured for about 5 minutes, until it’s a smooth dough. Divide into four parts, wrap in plastic, to keep from drying out. Let stand 15 minutes before rolling.

Roll the ball of dough through the pasta machine several times until you get the desired thickness. Then set the cutter to make noodles. When done with the noodles, set them aside on a floured baking pan or table.

Cooking fresh pasta is a very fast operation. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for one recipe of pasta, add a tablespoon of salt, and dump in the pasta. Stir with a wooden spoon so the strands don’t stick together, drain noodles as soon as al dente and toss with the sauce.

To serve, place the pasta in simmering water and bring up to a gentle boil. Cook the noodles until they are al dente or tender to the tooth. Adding a little of the pasta water to the sauce will thicken it and add flavor. After you have stirred that in, add the noodles to the sauce. You want to make sure not to be too rough with the pasta at any stage of cooking or it will break. Serve individually or in a bowl family style.

Serves 8 to 10


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