Maybe what folks are most interested in is how pasta is actually made. The process is simple, to be sure – only 3 to 4 ingredients, depending on the recipe. There are minimal tools involved, also: two of which are your hands and another is a flat surface. This, of course, pertains to the creation of fresh pasta, which is best made by hand. Dried pasta, which is a different product using different ingredients and different techniques, cannot be made by hand and should ALWAYS be left to the industrial pasta factories and their precise extruding machines. Fresh pasta, however, can be made almost anywhere by almost anyone.
Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of your table or workbench. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once there is a mass of dough, remove from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky .Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Once you have a ball of pasta dough, the possibilities are endless. You can use your hands and a rolling pin. You can purchase any number of home kitchen pasta rolling machines, or you can roll it out using an empty wine bottle turned on its side. I used the last method when I was a poor college student and had only enough money to purchase the basic ingredients to make the dough. Papardelle, fettuccini, tagliatelle, linguini, all of these “long cuts”, are all perfect types of pasta to make from fresh pasta dough. Once you have the dough rolled out into a large thin sheet, these flat pasta are differentiated based on the width of the cut. The other direction you can take with fresh pasta is Pasta Ripiena, or “filled” pastas, which include ravioli, tortellini, panzerotti, cannelonni and manicotti. There are dozens of different shapes and millions of filling possibilities limited only to the creativity of the chef making it.