Sfoglia Verde Agli Spinaci (Spinach Dough) Recipe

Popeye's favorite pasta.
Photo by Ian Stroud

Makes 2 (13 ½ ounce|385 gram) pasta dough balls; Pasta dough balls serve 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 3 hours


kosher salt
8 ¾ ounces|250 grams fresh spinach
8 ¾ ounces|250 grams large eggs, beaten
1 pound|454 grams "00" flour


  1. 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 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.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the spinach and eggs. Process on high speed until smooth and bright green, about 2 minutes.
  3. Make the pasta dough: Sift the flour onto your work surface and make an 8 inch (20 centimeter) 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 (2.5 to 5 centimeter) increments as you knead, like the hours on a clock.
  10. 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.
  11. Place each dough ball in the middle of its own piece of plastic wrap measuring about 12 inch (30.5 centimeter) 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.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This book has been reprinted with permission of the author from American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta.