Fresh, homemade pasta is easy to make, requiring only a modest degree of effort and simple, everyday ingredients like eggs and flour. The only piece of equipment necessary is a rolling pin, although a pasta rolling machine will cut the required time and effort dramatically. For the less ambitious home cook, fresh pasta is now readily available at most supermarkets. All that’s needed is to cut the pasta into your desired shapes.
To Cut Flat Noodles -Lay a sheet of pasta on the cutting board. If it feels sticky or tacky to the touch, dust it very lightly with flour to prevent it sticking. Roll the sheet like a Swiss roll from either the long or the short end, depending on the length of noodles desired.
Cut across the roll with a sharp knife to make noodles of the desired width. Tagliatelle are very thin; fettuccine are somewhat wider. Pappardelle can be 3/4 inch to one inch in width, and lasagne noodles may be two or three inches in width. If you have a pasta machine, use the supplied cutting attachment to make tagliatelle or fettuccine.
Toss the cut noodles with a small amount of flour to keep them from sticking. Cook them immediately, or dry them for storage by laying them flat on clean towels, or hanging them from a wooden dowel.
Making Other Shapes -Cut a sheet of pasta into rectangles, approximately an inch long by a half-inch wide. Make farfalle or bowties by pinching the middle of each rectangle between your thumb and forefinger until it holds its shape. Use a rolling pasta cutter to make the traditional zigzag edges.
Cut a pasta sheet into squares approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in size. Turn each square to make a diamond shape, with a tip facing you.
Place a clean pencil or small wooden dowel on top of the pasta, and fold the tip of the pasta over the pencil from behind. Roll the rest of the pasta around the pencil, pressing down firmly. Tip the pencil up to slide off the finished tubes, called "garganelli."
Make fresh orecchiette by rolling fresh pasta dough into a cylinder, from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch in thickness, depending on the size of pasta desired. Using a paring knife, cut off rounded "cubes" of dough, as thick as they are around.
Turn a piece of dough so that the cut side faces down, and press the tip of your knife flat on the top rear of the ball of pasta. Press down with the flat of the blade and slide it toward you, pressing the dough firmly to the counter top. This will flatten and curve the dough, making the distinctive shell or "ear" shape.
Repeat with the remaining dough. This takes practice, so don't be discouraged if the first few pieces do not take the desired shape. If you are not in a hurry, you can roll the least attractive pieces back into a cylinder, cutting and shaping them over again once you've got the feel for it.