This recipe by Oliva Cavalli is the pasta to call on when you want to show off a little. It’s not as tricky to make as it looks, especially if you’re already familiar with making an egg dough. Choose soft, fresh herbs - removing any prickly stalks that could puncture the sheets when rolling out. All the finished pasta needs is a simple butter sauce and a scattering of more fresh herbs to ramp up the flavour.
- CourseMain meal
- Prepare1 hr 30 mins
- Cook10 mins
- Total time1 hr 40 mins
Pile the flour into a mound on a work surface and use your fingers to make a wide well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the centre of the well, then slowly draw a small amount of the flour into the eggs with a fork, whisking continuously and squashing any lumps as you go, so you start to make a smooth mixture that looks like cake batter. Keep going until the eggs are no longer runny. Use a dough scraper or a knife with a wide blade to bring the rest of the flour on the outsides in, cutting it into the middle until you have a shaggy mass.
Squeeze everything together with your hands to bring the dough into one piece, then start kneading. Knead for a minimum of 15 minutes, using the heels of your palms to push the dough away from you and your fingers to pick it up, folding it in on itself then turning it 90 degress clockwise. Repeat this motion (you’ll get into a rhythm), kneading until the dough is smooth, tight and elastic (about 10 minutes). If it ever feels too dry, dampen your hands with a little water and carry on. If it feels too sticky, dust the surface with flour and continue kneading to incorporate. Leave the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, covered with an upturned bowl or wrapped in a reusable bag or baking parchment (you can chill it in the fridge for up to 2 days, bringing back to room temperature before rolling).
Divide the dough into 4 pieces, covering 3 of them to prevent them drying out. Roll out the first piece a little (or flatten with your hands) until it will go through the widest setting of the pasta machine comfortably. Roll it through the machine, then fold into thirds and, narrow end first, pass it though the same setting again. Repeat this folding and rolling through the wide setting 4 or 5 times – the dough should start to feel silky smooth and look more rectangular. Next, pass it through each setting once; work your way down to the third or second thinnest, or until you can see your hand through the sheet when held up to the light. If the dough starts sticking, dust with 00 flour.
Dust the worktop with semolina, then cut the sheet in half widthways to form 2 long sheets. Lay both on the worktop. Arrange ¼ of the herbs in patterns, quite close together, on top of one sheet, then lift the empty sheet up and lay it on top to enclose the herbs, pressing down gently with your hands to push out any air bubbles. Roll the sheet through the machine again, starting on the setting you left off, then taking it down one more to set the leaves in the dough. Trim the ends if you want to neaten. Dust with semolina and lay out on a tray while you repeat with the rest of the dough. We prefer to cut this pasta by hand, using a fluted pasta cutter or a sharp knife, into pappardelle or fazzoletti (silk handkerchiefs) to keep the leaves whole.
To cook, bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt it heavily. In a separate pan, melt the butter then add the lemon juice. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook very briefly (1-2 minutes) until al dente. Reserve a cupful of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the pan with the butter. Gently toss the pasta with the butter, adding a splash of the cooking liquid to thicken, until everything is glossy. Tear in a few fresh parsley or basil leaves, if liked. Season if needed and serve immediately on warm plates, sprinkled with the grated cheese.