Making fresh pasta intimidates many of us, but it doesn't need to! With just a few ingredients, some elbow grease and a little patience, you'll be putting homemade pasta on your dinner table in no time.
But first, why handmade pasta when it's so easy to just open a box? Actually, there is certainly a time and a place for store-bought pasta. It's quick and easy and it has a dense, sturdy texture that holds up well to longer cooking times and heavier sauces. (And at the end of a long day, sometimes you just need to make a quick batch of Annie's mac and Cheese.)
But fresh pasta can be so wonderful because of its rich color and flavor, and its tender, silky texture. Of course it's more work than opening a box, but if you have a moment, it will be worth the effort. And playing with your food can be fun.
I was once told (and completely agree now that I have some experience), that the key to great handmade pasta with a beautiful texture is to knead it for a full 10 minutes. And I mean athletic kneading, not just poking and prodding. After all of that kneading, which works the gluten, you'll need to be sure to let the dough rest so the gluten can relax. Work out; cool down.
Making handmade past does take some work and patience (like most good things in life), but it's worth it.
Go-To Egg Pasta Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
Mound the flour on a work surface and make a well in the center. Add the eggs, olive oil, water and salt to the well; whisk with a fork. Bit by bit, stir in the flour with the fork, working from the inside and moving out.
Once the dough starts coming together, form it into a ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead vigorously until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (set a timer!). Add a little flour as you go if the dough is too sticky.
Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.