If you’ve ever looked at pictures of herb-flecked pasta on Instagram and thought, ‘yum, but I can’t do that’, then we are here to say you most definitely can do that. Besides looking gorgeous, it adds another dimension of flavour to homemade pasta. From wild garlic to parsley, edible flowers or any fresh herb in your fridge you suspect is on its last legs, there are so many ways to enjoy herbed fresh pasta—add the number of sauces it would match with, and your creative possibilities are endless.
First things first, you have to learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch. I, Nikkitha, Borough Kitchen's Copywriter and former homemade pasta sceptic, did that by taking our online Filled Pasta Class. The ravioli I tucked into at the end of that class were good, but nowhere near as good as the ravioli I can make now after a few rounds of practice, AKA eating fresh homemade pasta for dinner many times. (No complaints here!) Once you get an initial feel for mixing flour and eggs, kneading it into a ball, letting it rest, then rolling it out into sheets, you’ll soon learn how to ‘read’ your dough. In a matter of time, you’ll be able to tell the exact moment when it’s ready to rest, or when it could use an extra egg yolk or some water to help it bind together more cohesively.
My guess is that if you’re reading about how to make herbed pasta, you’ve had some practice and have already experienced all of the above. If you haven’t, book yourself a pasta class at our cook school—in person at one of our London stores
—and invest in some pasta-making kit
. Because while you can make pasta without a pasta maker, the process is much slower, causing the dough to dry out before you can shape it properly. (You can also use a pasta maker for dumpling or gyoza dough, flatbreads, and crackers.)
Above: Sage leaves pressed into pasta dough, then cut using Marcato's Pappardelle attachment (shop here).
Here are two ways to make herbed pasta using any recipe you have: the pressed method and the mixed method. One is easy and the other is easier. These methods only work for pasta recipes that include eggs. A water-based dough will not allow the herbs to stick to the pasta dough as effectively, and will be harder to work with. For every 150g of flour, you’ll want to use about 20g herbs. If you’re using a very strong herb like thyme or tarragon, use a little less.
This method is a bit fussier than the Mixing Method, but is better if you want more control over how your final pasta looks. For example, if you’re using edible flowers, or you want neat little springs to show through in the final product.
- Follow your pasta dough recipe as instructed. While the dough rests, prepare your herbs. You can chop them roughly, or separate them neatly into springs.
- After your dough has rested and is ready for rolling, break off a piece of your dough, depending on the amount you’ve made. (For a 300g portion, I would break the dough into quarters.) Liberally dust your dough and rollers of a pasta maker with flour or semolina to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick. Roll each piece through the rollers of your pasta maker, starting at 0 and gradually reducing the thickness until you are at 6.
- Once you have a long sheet of dough, press some of your herbs into half the sheet with your hands. Cover it with the other half of the dough, like a book, and pass through the rollers again starting at 0. That’s it! You can now cut or shape your herbed pasta however you like.
The mixing method is so simple that there’s no point doing step-by-step instructions for it. All that’s required is whisking eggs with chopped herbs, by hand or in a food processor, before mixing it with flour per your recipe’s instructions. With this method, you won’t be able to control how the herbs look in the final result, and you can expect a more uniform colour. The herb flavour will also be much stronger this way, as it has more time to infuse with the dough.
To explore classes at our London cook school, click here