How to make fresh floral pasta
Fresh pasta is time consuming although remarkably easy if you will have a pasta machine. This is my recipe for flowery herby pasta which is so incredibly pretty. There is a vegan version of this recipe in my book V is for Vegan.
Fresh flower pasta with ricotta and sage butter recipe
300g 00 flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 eggs, beaten
Geranium petals (not Pelargoniums)
Herbs such as sage or dill
Fine semolina for dusting
250g of ricotta (if making lasagne) seasoned with salt and pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino or parmesan (optional)
If using a food processor, put the flour and salt in the machine and pulse. With the motor running, gradually add the beaten eggs to the mixture, a large drop at a time. Gradually the mixture should look like couscous. If it is too lumpy, add more flour.
Then remove the dough from the food processor and knead by hand for five minutes.
If making the pasta by hand, put the flour in a mound on a clean work top. Make a well in the centre and add the salt and eggs. Using a fork, mix the sides with the eggy centre, eventualy bringing the mixture together into a ball. Then knead for five minutes.
Cover the kneaded dough with a damp tea towel or cling film and leave it to rest for half an hour. (This stage is very important, leaving the dough to rest you will see that it is far more malleable afterwards).
Screw your pasta machine to a work surface with the handle closest to you. Unwrap the pasta and flatten it with your hand. Run it through the machine on the widest setting, then fold the pasta tongue in half and thread it through again, with the unfolded end going through first. Do this around ten times, you will feel the pasta become more elastic. If you hear a little pop sound at the folded end, you know it is ready.
Then run the pasta through the machine on the narrower setting. Add geranium petals, dill fronds, nasturtium flowers and leaves, sage or other herbs on settings 4, 5, 6. Keep running the pasta through the machine on narrower and narrower settings until the pasta will be very fine, till the point you can see your hand through it. The flowers and herbs will stretch as you go. Keep going until the last setting when it will be three times as long. You'll probably need to cut it in half during this process.
When you have rolled it through notch 8, lay the lasagne out to dry on a large clean table, cutting it into sections of about 15cm in length. Leave to dry overnight.
To make fettucini
Either roll it loosely and cut into noodles or run it through a fettucini attachment.
Now you have made your pasta you want to prevent it from sticking. Sprinkle a thick layer of fine semolina on a tray and spread the pasta in coiled nests on top. You could also hold this tray underneath the machine so that the pasta falls straight into the semolina flour. Sprinkle the nests with more flour.
You can leave this to dry for 24 hours then freeze it if not using straight away.
To cook the pasta, add plenty of sea salt to a large saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta for 1 to 5 minutes until it floats to the surface. Don't walk away from the stove! This cooks quickly.
Fettucini version: Drain the pasta and toss with salted butter, sage leaves, salt and pepper to taste. You could also dust a little pecorino or parmesan on top.
I cooked 3 to 4 leaves of lasagne per person, draining it in a colander then sandwiching it with fresh ricotta cheese and drizzling it with the sage and butter. I wouldn't cook more than say 8 leaves at a time, you don't want them to stick together. So serve guests two by two.