Herb-printed pasta reminds me of pressing flowers as a child. I have come across this method of decorating pasta in several restaurants over the last few years. It is not difficult to do, and if you do not want to make your own pasta you can use wonton wrappers (a small round roll of dough), which can be bought in Chinese supermarkets. Use small sage leaves, flat-leaf parsley, basil, coriander, rosemary flowers, sage flowers, tarragon and chervil.
Serve the pasta hot with olive oil, Parmesan and fresh raw tomatoes, peeled and diced, or chopped black olives, or lightly fried mushrooms. You can also serve two sheets of the pasta as an open ravioli, and put a spoonful of luxurious filling between the sheets: crab meat, chopped and cooked wild and cultivated mushrooms, shredded goose or duck mixed with ginger, soy and spring onions.
Keep the pasta covered with a damp cloth, and use two pieces at a time. Mix the water and cornflour, and brush one side of each wrapper with the ‘paste’. On one of them, arrange the herbs. Press the other piece on top, and cut decorative fluted edges with a pasta-cutter. Place on a clean towel, and continue with the remaining wrappers. Cook in a large, shallow pan of boiling water, and then remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and fold in oil before serving hot or cold.
You can also fold the squares diagonally to make triangular pasta.
You can make herb-printed lasagne especially easily with a hand-cranked pasta-roller. Having rolled out two sheets of pasta to the third notch, arrange the herbs on one sheet and cover with the other, pressing down firmly. Put the roller back to the widest setting and roll the pasta through, then on each subsequent setting. You will see that the herbs stretch too, and you may not be able to roll it through the last setting without tearing the pasta.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.