It's been years since I've bought dried pasta. That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too. The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid. In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment. Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house. Flour, eggs and water. That's pretty much it! Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook. We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners. The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!
The recipes I use most often are honestly from the little cookbook that came along with my kitchen aid. I would recommend starting with the basic egg pasta and then progressing to the whole wheat pastas once you get the hang of it...the whole wheat dough is a bit more finicky. It's also important to note that pasta recipes aren't perfect. Sometimes you'll need to adjust and add a bit more or less liquid to get the consistency right. So make sure to touch and feel your dough before deciding it's done!
Once your dough is ready on to the super fun part. Rolling it out and cutting the sheets (or filling them uncut if you're making a filled pasta). Seriously...gather your kids and friends for this, it's quite fun. Or maybe I'm just a dork. I really like to do it with a glass of wine beside me...makes me feel like I'm getting in touch with my Italian roots! Rolling out the dough is super easy, and don't get discouraged if it comes through a little messy or with some tears the first couple of times. Just keep folding in half and re-rolling it on setting 1 (if you're using a KitchenAid) until it starts to come through smooth. Also make sure to fold over the edges a bit to try to get it into as close to a rectangle as possible before you move onto setting 2. Then keep rolling until you get to the recommended setting for the type of pasta your making (also outlined in the link to the cookbook above).
Once you have your nice long stretched out pasta dough lay it out flat, trim the edges as needed (and mush those scraps into another ball of dough) and move on to roll out your next dough until it is all rolled out. Then if your making spaghetti or linguini run your sheets of dough through the appropriate cutting attachment, shown above. If you're making filled pasta follow the instructions according to your recipe using your beautiful fresh pasta sheets.
When I recently made pasta I made up my own sauce recipe, but I followed the Bon Appétit perfect pasta guidelines as I pretty much always do...and if do say so myself, it did come out perfectly! Seriously, if you like to make homemade sauces often, the Bon Appétit guidelines are pretty great. So what did I put in my sauce? Fire-roasted canned tomatoes, fresh roasted red pepper, basil, canned artichokes and garlic. I finished it off with a sprinkle of fresh black pepper and parmesan cheese.
And all of this deliciousness (with some help on pasta rolling) only took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Perfect Sunday meal. Mangia!