Flour. A few good eggs. A bit of oil.
These are the sole ingredients for a batch of homemade pasta. They must be good ingredients, to be sure, but they are not complicated.
It is amazing then, that so few of us make the dish. It doesn't take long: just the kneading of flour and egg, the short rest to give the gluten a chance to settle in and stretch out, and the back and forth rolling and cutting into long, thin strips.
I used a pasta crank for the first time this week, which made the process easier still. The blades split the dough like strings in a piano belly, and I draped strip after strip over windowsill chopsticks to dry.
When the racks were full, I threw the extras into a bubbling pot to cook. They needed only three minutes before turning a thick, tender brown. Speckled with herbs and garlic pepper, they were rich enough to eat on their own with a cascading pat of butter and a bit of salt.
But we had a pile of leeks and summer squash to demise, and so I set to work making a sauce from a bit of salt pork and the lingering veggies. Leaks softened and simmered, fat sizzled, and the squash settled into a flavorful heap. I spooned it over the pasta, and sat down to a feast.
Heap onto the kitchen counter 3 and 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat can be used, but do not use all whole wheat as it will make the pasta impossibly tough). Make a well in the center, and crack in 4 good eggs, at room temperature. Add several tablespoons olive oil, and begin whisking eggs, slowly incorporating flour mixture from well sides. When a cohesive dough begins to form, start working it with your hands. Knead until it is elastic and smooth.
Cover in plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes. Roll out dough to desired thinness and cut into strips or other shapes, depending on preference, or form using a pasta machine according to manufacturers directions. Cook 2-4 minutes, or dry for later use.