Handkerchief Pasta with caper, breadcrumbs, dill, and butter

Handkerchief Pasta with Lemon Butter, Capers, Dill and Panko

Recipe and photos by Emilie Pullar

I have a pretty major obsession with lemon, dill, and capers at the moment. I know, I know–it’s not a new or groundbreaking flavor combination but I find that these tried and tested flavors work the best and are satisfying every time.

The combination of this wondrous trio mixed with the silky pasta sheets, a buttery sauce, and toasted breadcrumbs really is a dream come true for me in terms of texture and flavor. I also believe that handkerchief pasta (known as fazzoletti in Italy) is seriously underrated, as it’s incredibly easy to prepare and acts as a blanket to hold all the sauce in.

It’s no secret butter sauces are my go-to secret weapon. It’s partly because I love butter with every inch of my being but also, after hours of making pasta, it really is the fastest and easiest option. My top tips?

  • Use unsalted butter if you can, butter companies all use varying degrees of salt and I think it’s better to be able to control the seasoning yourself. Particularly here in New Zealand, I find that salted butters are way too salty for a sauce.
  • My other main tip is to agitate your pan at the same time as whisking when you add in the pasta water. You want to emulsify the liquids together and stirring slowly won’t do the job. Here you want to lift your pan and give it a shake while whisking at the same time. That is how you get a thickened glossy sauce.
  • Since you are whisking and shaking the pan so vigorously, it’s best to avoid a non-stick pan that might get scratched. Stick to sturdy stainless steel or aluminum one.

Handkerchief Pasta with Lemon Butter, Capers, Dill and Panko

Serves 3-4

Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 10 Minutes

Special Equipment

Pasta machine
Pasta cutter


For the pasta dough:
1 batch marbled pasta dough, cut into 15 x 15 squares (I serve 4 sheets per person)

For the breadcrumbs and sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, q.b.
100 grams unsalted butter, cubed
2 lemons, zested and juiced
¼ cup capers
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve (optional)


Prepare the pasta dough (I used marbled pasta dough but you could also use a plain fresh egg dough). Sheet the dough and cut into 6 x 6 inch (~15 x 15 cm) squares.

In a small pan, heat olive oil on medium and toast the panko breadcrumbs until golden, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat until starting to sizzle, lower the heat to medium-low and add the zest from one lemon and juice of half of one. Whisk to emulsify.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta sheets for 2 – 3 minutes. When they are almost done, spoon ¼ cup of pasta water into the butter. Whisk vigorously while giving the pan a good shake, until the sauce is thickened.

Transfer the pasta into the butter sauce and let it bubble away for a minute. They will fold naturally in the sauce, don’t try and flatten them out.

Divide the sheets between plates and top with a few spoonfuls of sauce, toasted panko breadcrumbs, capers, fresh dill, and some grated lemon zest to finish. 

Optional: finish with some freshly grated parm at the table.

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