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Silk Handkerchief Pasta with Basil Pesto (Fazzoletti di Seta)
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5 from 18 votes

Silk Handkerchief Pasta with Basil Pesto (Fazzoletti di Seta)

This homemade fazzoletti pasta with homemade basil pesto is a fabulous combination of what are actually simple foods that have been enjoyed by Italians for hundreds of years. If you try this authentic Italian pasta recipe, I’m sure you’ll love it. And, the fact that you made everything from scratch makes this dish not only healthier but more satisfying too!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Homemade Pasta, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Liguria, Northern Italy
Keyword: basil pesto, fazzoletti, handkerchief pasta, homemade pasta, Liguria, mandilli, pesto, pesto pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 684kcal
Author: Jacqueline De Bono


For the pesto

  • 4 handfuls fresh basil leaves 60-70 g preferably young leaves (In Liguria they use Basilico Genovese D.O.P.)
  • 30 g pine nuts (1oz) I like to toast mine
  • 60 g Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) grated
  • 60 g Pecorino Sardo (2oz) grated
  • 2-3 pinches coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 garlic cloves peeled
  • extra virgin olive oil. (as required) the best is Riviera Ligure D.O.P. This oil is sweet and fruity and enhances the aroma of the basil and seasoning

For the pasta

  • 200 g Italian '00' flour (7oz) or all purpose flour (see notes)
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • semolina flour for dusting
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. for cooking


Make the pesto

  • BASIL LEAVES If it’s possible, choose medium sized young leaves (brighter green). Rinse the leaves under water and dry them with paper towels.

Basil pesto the traditional way.

  • Peel the garlic cloves and put them into a mortar with pine nuts.  Grind until you have a paste Then add some basil leaves, and a little coarse salt, and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Keep working with the pestle, while continuing to add more basil leaves and olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Finally, transfer to a bowl, add the cheeses and stir well.

Using a blender

  • Put all the ingredients in the blender and pulse a few seconds at a time until you have the right consistency. Don’t keep pulsing for too long at once as the blender will heat up and this can spoil the basil.

Make the handkerchief pasta (fazzoletti)

  • If using a stand mixer sift the flour into the bowl of your kitchen mixer, break the eggs into the center with a pinch of salt and mix and knead until you have a soft dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Then turn it out onto a floured wooden pastry board and finish kneading there. If the dough seems too dry and crumbly add some tepid water.

If making dough by hand

  • Mound your sifted flour onto a pastry board, make a well in the center and add a pinch of salt. Break the eggs into the well and whisk them a little ( you could also beat eggs in a small bowl and then add to flour). Start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well. You can use a fork for this. Continue mixing the flour with the eggs until they are no longer runny. Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board.
  • Begin to knead the dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand. Continue kneading for about 7-10 minutes.  Knead until the pasta dough is smooth, elastic, and just slightly tacky. You can dust the dough with more flour if it’s too sticky. Work the dough until it is perfectly homogeneous.
  • Roll the dough into a ball and cover with a tea towel (or wrap it in plastic wrap) so it does not dry out and let it rest for at least thirty minutes.

Make your fazzoletti.

  • Cut off 1/6 of the dough. Re-wrap the rest in cling film so it doesn’t dry out and roll out the piece you cut off until it is flat enough that you can pass it through a pasta machine if you are using one.
  • I used my pasta machine to roll out the sheets, first 3-4 times on number 6 (the widest setting on my machine) on the dial and then a couple of times on number 4. Then we continued to roll it even thinner on the pastry board. You want to get the pasta as thin as possible without breaking.
  • If you aren’t using a machine you need to keep rolling out the dough until it is thin enough to see your fingers through it. Once your sheets are thin enough cut them into 15cm squares (15x15). Transfer the ready fazzoletti to a floured tray while you finish the rest. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Making parsley and basil herb fazzoletti

  • If you want to make herb fazzoletti you just need to place some basil and parsley leaves onto one end of one of the sheets of pasta. Fold the sheet over to cover the leaves and then roll together until as thin as possible. If your pasta is too dry, the two sides of the sheet may not stick together. In this case wet around the edges with a little water before folding and rolling out.

Finish the dish.

  • Put a pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Once it boils, add salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil again. Cook the handkerchief pasta for about 4-5 minutes, 2-4 at a time depending on the size of your pot. Remove the pasta pieces from the water using a slotted spoon and then cook more of them.
  • Mix your pesto with a little pasta cooking water until you have the consistency you want. Put some pesto in the bottom of your serving plate. Add the cooked pasta handkerchiefs and then some more pesto and pine nuts on top. Serve with extra grated parmigiano if required.


We had quite a few small pieces of pasta dough left after making all the fazzoletti. So we made a serving of farfalle pasta with them. To make farfalle cut the remaining dough pieces into small rectangles and then pinch the centre together to create farfalle pasta. If the pasta is dry, wet your fingers before pinching.
You may need a bit more or even less than 200g of flour depending on the size of the eggs and the type of flour. If your dough seems dry add a little water or white wine. If it's too wet add a little more flour.