Home-made pasta made easy: Kate Gibb's pasta handkerchiefs with rocket.
Home-made pasta made easy: Kate Gibb's pasta handkerchiefs with rocket. Photo: Danielle Smith

Kate Gibbs

This dish is for those who never got around to investing in a pasta machine. It's for anyone who has been put off making their own pasta by demonstrations involving unmanageable sheets curling from pasta machines and left to dry from every hanging nook in the kitchen. It's for cooks who see home-made pasta as a rainy-day option at best; a special-occasion dish rather than a reliable standby for a weeknight meal.

Difficulty levels here are radically reduced by the food processor, the pasta cheat's one-man band, which omits the hefty kneading step usually needed for home-made pasta. But it isn't preparing the dough that makes pasta time-consuming.

What takes time, effort and precision is rolling it out. But even a novice can do this hand-rolled version with ease. This dish transforms eggs and flour to hot pasta on the table in about an hour.
Patience comes at the resting time, essential to give the dough elasticity. Giving it half an hour to settle makes it easier to roll into thin strips, which are then cut up into "fazzoletti", or "handkerchiefs".
The three eggs and two egg yolks is an approximate measure. Exact quantities for eggs and flour are hard to give because it depends how large the eggs are and how much the flour absorbs. Add a few drops of water if you don't get a dough, or a sprinkle of flour if the mix is soggy. You should end up with soft, elastic and pliable dough.

For a simple version of this dish, use fresh lasagne pasta sheets instead of making pasta from scratch. Cut them in half lengthways, cook, then make the rocket pesto.

Pasta handkerchiefs with rocket pesto

INGREDIENTS

2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
3 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 cups rocket leaves, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

METHOD

Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add eggs and yolks and process until a ball begins to form, about 30 seconds. Add a few drops of water if the dough doesn't form, or one to two teaspoons of flour if it's too wet.

Turn dough out of the food processor, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to 24 hours in the fridge. To make pesto, add nuts to a dry fry pan over a low heat and toss until light golden and fragrant, then set aside. Combine rocket, garlic, salt and half the oil in a food processor. Blend until it forms a paste, stop the machine and push any leaves down the sides of the bowl.

Add remaining oil, nuts and parmesan and blend to combine. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Divide dough into three balls. Using a rolling pin, roll one ball out on a lightly floured surface until it is as thin as possible, about two millimetres thick. Use a metal spatula to run under the sheet, making sure it doesn't stick and adding as little flour as needed to make it workable. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cut sheets into six-to eight-centimetre squares. The dough will increase in size when cooked. It doesn't matter if they're a bit rough in shape. Drop squares into boiling water one at a time, making sure they don't stick together. Cook until al dente, about three minutes. Drain pasta, return it to saucepan and add the desired amount of pesto. Season to taste, toss to combine and serve immediately with extra shavings of parmesan.

Serves 4