Pasta Handkerchiefs

The classic pesto sauce from Liguria is used to dress fazzoletti, a pasta dough similar for making lasagne sheets (also known in dialect as mandrilli which means handkerchief). If you can, use very small leaf basil and do not wet it. Just damp wipe the leaves with a moist towel. If you are really going to be traditional, take out the center vein from the basil leaves. My tip is to tear the leaves in small pieces before adding them to the mortar; this will speed up the process but be warned that making peso by hand is long and hard.


  • Dough
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • Pinch salt
  • White wine as needed
  • 2 cups King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
  • Pesto Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled (1 clove for every 30 leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups small basil leaves, stems removed
  • 6 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (Ligurian if possible)


  1. For the Dough
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the whole eggs, yolks and salt. Add the flour a little at a time and some of the wine to create a ball that moves around the blade.
  3. Transfer to a floured board. Knead ball until smooth then cover and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the dough into 4 parts. Flour the first piece of dough lightly and flatten with a rolling pin. Run it through a hand-cranked pasta machine several times at each setting until dough is thin enough to see your hand behind it. The lasagne should be a little thicker than standard fettuccine. Do this with each piece of dough. Lay all the pasta sheets out on a floured surface and let them sit to firm up for about 5 minutes. Cut the sheets into approximately 4 inches wide by 6 inches long strips. Place the strips in single layers on lightly floured towels.
  5. For the Pesto
  6. Use a mortar and pestle to make the most authentic pesto, or, last resort, a food processor following the sequence below.
  7. Crush garlic with salt in a mortar using a rotating motion with the pestle. When garlic and salt are creamy, add a handful of pine nuts and continue crushing in circular motion. Add basil and crush in a circular motion. Add the two cheeses. Add oil drop by drop to create a creamy sauce.
  8. Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a rapid boil; throw in 2 tablespoons of salt and the lasagne sheets a few at a time; cook 2 minutes; drain sheets on clean towels. Save a couple tablespoons of the pasta water and add to a pan with 1/2 cup of the pesto sauce; add the lasagne and heat, tossing the pasta until sheets are well covered with the pesto. Serve with an extra grating of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

This recipe was featured on Season 27 - Episode 2715.

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Denise M. Reinker

Looking for the tips on caring for basil plants, I tuned in late for this episode, and I missed that part! Thank you!!!

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