Silk Handkerchiefs with Pesto
Mandilli de saea - the name is Genoese for silk handkerchiefs - are delicate, handkerchief-size sheets of pasta, typically tossed with pesto.
Yield: serves 6-8
For the Pasta
- 3 1⁄2 cups flour
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 5 eggs
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
For the Pesto
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp. pine nuts
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, preferably small and young
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated pecorino sardo
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- For the pasta, sift flour and salt together onto a large work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour, add eggs, one at a time, working into flour with your hands. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll each out as thinly as possible—either on a lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin or with a pasta machine. Cut each sheet into 12 to 14 4'' squares. Set squares aside, layered between clean dish towels.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, pulse garlic and pine nuts with salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add basil and pulse while slowly drizzling in oil. Add pecorino sardo and parmigiano-reggiano and purée, frequently scraping sides with a spatula, until pesto is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- To the boiling water, add 1 tbsp. oil and half the pasta, and cook until pasta is tender, 3–4 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon, drain in a colander, and toss with half the remaining oil. Repeat with remaining pasta. Dilute pesto with ½ cup of pasta cooking water and purée until creamy, about 1 minute. Gently toss hot pasta with pesto and serve immediately.