One of my favorite ways to celebrate springtime is with herb-laminated pasta—pasta embedded with fresh herbs. It's not only stunning to look at, but it’s also completely customizable and much simpler to make than it looks. Watch this video to see the process in action.
Before we start
Use a mix of whatever soft and tender herbs you prefer: sage, parsley, mint, stripped thyme, small basil leaves, dill, marjoram, and even edible flowers (just make sure to remove any tough stems). Once cooked, the flavors will be subtle, so almost anything goes. Skip firmer herbs like rosemary, which could puncture the pasta during the lamination process.
Stick with small- or medium-sized leaves to prevent tears in the dough (especially if you’re making filled pastas with this technique). Large leaves also contain more moisture that can be released during the rolling process—I’ve had basil juice on my face more than a couple of times.
Herb-laminated pasta can certainly be made by hand, but a pasta machine is helpful here. Also, the herbs will stretch as the pasta rolls out, so know that the finished design will be an elongated version of your original.
I prefer to keep the pasta shape simple to showcase the herbs, but these pasta sheets can be used to make any of your favorite egg-based shapes, from farfalle to ravioli.
What you'll need
1 batch egg pasta dough (see this post)
A selection of your preferred herbs and/or edible flowers (see notes above)
Manual pasta machine or electric pasta attachment
A clean dish cloth
Shaping tools and/or fillings, depending on the type of pasta you're making
Line a sheet pan with semolina flour or a dry dish cloth. Cut off a quarter of the pasta dough and immediately re-wrap the remaining dough to prevent it from drying out.
Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand until it’s about ¼-inch thick. Set the pasta machine to its widest setting and roll the dough through once (it will be tapered at the ends). If the dough feels sticky as it goes through the machine, dust both sides with a little ‘00’ or all-purpose flour.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold both ends into the center like an envelope, so the width of the pasta sheet is similar in width to the pasta roller. Roll the dough through the widest setting once more so you have an even-ish rectangle.
Continue rolling the pasta through the machine one time on each progressive setting until you have a thin sheet (for most pastas, setting 6 on a Marcato Atlas 150 or KitchenAid attachment).
Fold the sheet in half crosswise to find the midpoint and cut it in two. Cover one half with a damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out. Lay the herbs across the other half in your desired pattern.
If the dough feels dry, brush the edges and negative space of the pasta sheet with a very small amount of water. Carefully lay the second half of the dough on top. Press firmly to seal, and smooth out any trapped air bubbles.
Trim the edges of the combined sheets on both sides, lengthwise, to seal the two together. It should now be slightly narrower than the width of the pasta machine. Dust both sides of the pasta with a little bit of ‘00’ or all-purpose flour.
Set your pasta machine to one setting wider than before (in this example, setting 5 on the Marcato and KitchenAid machines). Roll the sheet through once, then set the machine to one setting thinner, back to your original setting (in this case, 6). Roll through again. Now you have herb-laminated pasta!
Shape the pasta sheet as desired and repeat the process with the remaining dough. Any scraps are a perfect snack, and they can also be frozen (see below) and used in soups.
For longer-term storage, freeze the shaped pasta on a baking sheet until solid, about 25 minutes (for longer shapes like pappardelle, freeze in stacks or nests, ensuring each strand is coated with semolina flour). Transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 2 months. Cook straight from frozen.