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They're "pasta pictures."

Remember pressing flowers in a book to capture their delicate beauty? You can get the same effect with pasta by sandwiching fresh herbs and flowers between transparent, ready-made wonton or egg roll wrappers. The pasta pictures are not only visually appealing, they also have the herbs' fresh, lively pungency.

The pasta is simple to assemble, stores well, and cooks in minutes. Recipes use nasturtium blossoms, and herbs and their flowers--buy them or harvest them from your garden; make sure they have been grown without pesticides. If you use flowers other than nasturtiums, be certain they are safe to eat.

Fresh Herb and Flower Pasta

Fresh herb leaves and flowers (see recipes following for choices) 2 teaspoons cornstarch Won ton skins or egg roll wrappers (see recipes following)

Discard tough stems from herbs and flowers. Rinse leaves and blossoms; drain dry.

Mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Work with 2 pieces of pasta at a time (keep remaining pasta covered with plastic wrap). Brush 1 side of each piece of pasta with cornstarch mixture.

Arrange a single layer of a few herbs and flowers on top of 1 piece, leaving at least a 1/4-inch border of uncovered pasta around edges. Place the other pasta piece over the first and press gently with a rolling pin to seal and expel air. If desired, cut edges with a fluted ravioli cutter. Repeat with remaining pasta, herbs, and flowers.

Lay pasta pieces slightly apart in a flour-dusted 10- by 15-inch pan and cover with plastic wrap; sprinkle with flour and layer more pasta on top. If made ahead, wrap airtight and chill up to 1 day. Or freeze in a single layer until solid, then package airtight up to 2 weeks.

To cook, fill a 5- to 6-quart pan 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add about half of the pasta at a time (do not thaw if frozen) and boil gently until barely tender to bite, about 2 minutes; occasionally push pasta under the boiling water. Lift out a couple of pieces at a time with a slotted spoon, draining, and gently mix in a bowl with seasonings as directed in the following recipes.

Sage Pasta

Follow preceding recipe for fresh herb and flower pasta, using about 40 fresh sage leaves (each 2 to 3 in. long), 50 fresh sage blossoms (without stems), and 40 won ton skins (3 1/4-in. size; 9 oz. total).

Mix hot, drained pasta with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine. Transfer to warm plates and season pasta to taste with salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese; garnish with fresh sage flowers and leaves. Serves 4.

Per serving: 227 cal.; 8 g protein; 6.3 g fat (3.6 g sat.); 35 g carbo.; 76 mg sodium; 16 mg chol.

Nasturtium-Tarragon Pasta Salad

Follow preceding recipe for fresh herb and flower pasta, using 50 tarragon leaves (about 2 in. long), 20 nasturtium flowers (about 3 in. across; or use more tarragon), and 40 wonton skins (3 1/4-in. size; 9 oz. total). Mix hot pasta with 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel and 6 tablespoons each salad oil and lemon juice; let cool.

On 4 plates, arrange 8 large (4 oz. total) butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped; 2 cups lightly packed tender nasturtium leaves, or more lettuce, rinsed and crisped; and 1 cup thinly sliced, peeled cucumber, cut into matchstick slices. Spoon dressing over greens; arrange pasta on top. Season with salt and pepper; garnish with nasturtium flowers. Serves 4.

Per serving: 380 cal.; 9 g protein; 21 g fat (2.6 g sat.); 39 g carbo.; 35 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Mixed Herb Pasta Triangles

Follow preceding recipe for fresh herb and flower pasta, using 8 egg roll wrappers (6- in. size; 6 oz. total) and mixed fresh herbs, such as 8 fresh basil leaves (about 2 in. long), 16 fresh oregano leaves (about 1 in. long), 24 fresh rosemary leaves (about 3/4 in. long), and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves. Instead of sealing 2 pasta wrappers together, sprinkle herbs over half of each square and fold each wrapper into a triangle. Trim edges evenly.

Mix hot pasta with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Serve the pasta warm or cool. Place 2 pasta triangles on each plate. Spoon chopped firm-ripe tomatoes (1 cup total) alongside pasta. Season pasta to taste with salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese; garnish with fresh herb leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 186 cal.; 5.7 g protein; 7.2 g fat (0.9 g sat.); 25 g carbo.; 15 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1991
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