Silk Handkerchiefs with Kale Pesto


Once you’ve tried silk handkerchiefs - or mandilli de sea as they’re known in Liguria - you will understand why mastering this sheet pasta will be a game changer for your pasta game. These super thin ‘handkerchiefs’ of pasta are an absolute delight to eat - wonderfully delicate and work particularly well with another Ligurian speciality - pesto.  

For such a light and silky pasta, a luxurious egg yolk dough is a must! This dough is a little harder to work with given the absence of egg whites, so keep a spray bottle filled with water on hand to use as needed during the kneading process.  

Serves four  


Silk Handkerchiefs 

  • 300g tipo “00” flour 
  • 250g egg yolks (roughly 14 eggs - save the whites for omelettes or pavlova!) 


Kale Pesto (makes roughly 300g)  

  • 40g basil leaves - stems discarded 
  • 60g kale leaves - stem discarded  
  • 80ml light/mellow olive oil  
  • 1 garlic clove (you can add more here, depending on your preference and tolerance for garlic)  
  • Pinch of salt  
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts  
  • 2 tbsp walnut halves  
  • 30g Pecorino Romano, grated 
  • 40g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated 



Silk Handkerchiefs  

  1. In a large bowl add the flour and create a well in the centre. Add the egg yolks into the well, then using a fork begin to whisk, slowly incorporating a bit of flour at a time until the mix comes together as a shaggy dough.  
  2. Transfer to a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, and not sticky at all. Egg yolk doughs are drier so after a few minutes of kneading, cover and rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the dough to rehydrate, before continuing your knead. Give the dough a spritz with water during the kneading process as required to help it into a workable mass.  
  3. Cover or store the dough somewhere airtight and leave to rest for at least 30 min.  
  4. Cut the dough into four pieces. Working with one at a time, (keeping the other pieces covered while you do) use a pasta machine to roll the dough out until it’s roughly 0.6mm thick (typically the second to last setting on most machines).  
  5. Cut the sheet of dough into 8x8cm squares with a straight wheel cutter or knife to create your silk handkerchiefs. 
  6. Lay the handkerchiefs out on a tray lined with a clean tea towel or dusted with fine semolina and allow them to dry out for at least an hour before cooking.   

Kale pesto   

  1. In a blender add the basil, kale, garlic, olive oil, salt and both pine nuts and walnuts. Blitz until smooth. 
  2. Transfer to a bowl and add in the grated Pecorino and Parmigiano - stirring by hand to combine.  

Finishing touches  

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil.  
  2. The silk handkerchiefs cook incredibly quickly - they’ll only need a minute or so.  
  3. Allow a tablespoon of pesto per person, add to a bowl along with the drained pasta and a splash of its cooking water and stir gently to coat.  
  4. Serve with extra grated Parmigiano.  

NB: Leftover pesto can be stored in an airtight container covered with olive oil in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  

This recipe was created by Gabriella from @_noregrettispaghetti, check out Gabriella's instagram page here or website here. 

Gabriella is a Londoner born to Armenian/Canadian parents, with a love of all things Italian, especially pasta. She fell in love with food between the pages of her mum’s Reader’s Digest cookbooks, and at the table of her grandmother’s Cypriot kitchen, watching dolma be rolled and lahmajun made. 

When she’s not making her favourite carb, she can be found sharing some of her recipes on her blog, drinking far too much coffee, or hanging out with her dog, Gordon.