making fresh pasta is not as complicated as it may seem. it is an extra step, but it makes a simple pasta dinner really extravagant. fresh pasta has a great texture and is light and just melts on your tongue. it is a wonderful treat!
i started making fresh pasta regularly three years ago after my husband gave me the most desired gifts on my birthday wish list: a pasta machine and drying rack. but. in an effort to provide equal opportunity food, i have spent the last couple of weeks trying out different pasta methods. i made it with and without mixers, pasta machines, drying racks and without, using everyday all-purpose and specialty semolina flours. my conclusive results: all delish. if you're ready to commit to heavy machinery, a pasta maker (and a drying rack!) is wonderful. it makes thin, uniform noodles. if you don't have the space, money or desire, roll it out by hand. it's easy and worth it.
fresh homemade pasta
2 cups (semolina or all purpose) flour*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon oil
combine ingredients in bowl of a kitchenaid with a paddle attachment, or a bosch with dough hook. mix. if dough seems dry, add more oil, a teaspoon at a time, until dough is smooth. if dough is wet, add flour, a teaspoon at a time, until dough is smooth. mix for 10 minutes. dough will be smooth. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
to roll with a machine: start on the largest setting and roll a 1/2 inch slice of dough through. pass through settings until you reach a 3 or 4. cut pasta into desired shape and dry on rack or a cookie sheet for 10-20 minutes. cook in salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, drain and serve.
to roll by hand: flour a clean work surface. with a rolling pin, vigorously roll dough to a very thin circle; apply even pressure. As it stretches, roll constantly. do not bear down, or it will tear. roll for several minutes, until dough is as thin as possible, almost translucent. (it will get bigger when you cook it.) If it shrinks back as you roll, cover with a towel, and let rest 10 minutes before you resume rolling. cut with a sharp knife into thin strips for fettuccine. drape on a drying rack or on a cookie sheet and let pasta dry for 10-20 minutes. cook in salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, drain and serve.
* semolina flour can be found at specialty food shops and health food stores. it makes a lighter pasta. all purpose flour substitutes well if semolina is hard to find.
** dried pasta will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days before cooking.