Perk up homemade pasta with herbs and spices

 fresh pasta dough

Homemade fresh pasta is a simple yet versatile food that boasts a delicate texture you can't find in its commercial counterpart. Once you get the hang of making pasta, you can perk it up with a number of different add-ins, says David Tanis in The New York Times.

Tanis explains that you can have pasta that not only looks colorful but actually tastes terrific by adding the right fresh ingredients. "Green pasta can actually taste like something if you purée raw spinach or chard leaves with the eggs that make the dough. A mixture of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage) makes green speckled pappardelle that look pretty and have real herbal flavor," he explains.

Spices like black pepper and saffron also add punch to pastas, and one of Tanis' favorites is a dough that includes a mixture of paprika, cayenne and pimentón. He notes that it is "uncanny how the essence of hot pepper really comes through for truly zingy fettuccine that contrast beautifully with sweet vegetables - delicious tossed with corn and zucchini in the summer, or with roasted winter squash during the cooler months."

If the idea of cutting fresh pasta into noodle shapes is intimidating, you can try larger shapes like pappardelle or handkerchief squares. If you have a pasta machine and want to add even more interest to your pasta, you can roll herbs or edible flowers between pasta sheets to make windowpane pasta, which works great with the handkerchief shape.

Photo of Homemade pasta dough from Leite's Culinaria by Maxine Clark

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