I have to admit, I’ve gotten a bit slack and have been buying dried pasta for the past few years. There’s nothing wrong with store-bought pasta – I’ve become fond of the whole wheat pasta spirals I get at my natural foods store, tossed with greens, garlic, and olive oil – but I was recently at the home of a friend and while we were talking over wine, he pulled out a disk of dough, quickly rolled it, and put together a simple lasagna with those just-made noodles. It was so good, and made me realize that I’d forgotten how good fresh pasta is. And it’s not difficult at all to make.
Unlike pastry and bread doughs, pasta dough isn’t very fussy. You don’t really need a machine to shape the pasta, but a pasta roller really helps and it’s one of life’s great pleasure when you pull that final cut of the pasta strands out of the machine and drop them into a pot of boiling water. I have an attachment for my stand mixer, although the small hand-cranked machines are inexpensive and do a good job, too. You can handroll pasta with a rolling pin, but be prepared for a bit of a challenge if you want the dough really thin.