Making pasta at home may sound intimidating, but it's a lot easier than you think. And no, you don't need a pasta machine. In fact, you can make homemade pasta by hand with just two ingredients: semolina and water. You can also use all-purpose flour and eggs, but whatever combination of those basic ingredients you use, you don't need a pasta machine to form the noodles.
Fresh, hand-made noodles are so much better than anything pre-packaged. You'll be surprised at how simple the process can be, and how rewarding the results are. If you're going the semolina and water route, you can use two parts semolina and one part water. Depending on the texture you want, you can substitute in some all-purpose flour for the semolina. If you're adding eggs in, a good ratio for four servings of pasta is four eggs -- at room temperature -- for 14 ounces of flour.
Whether you're using two ingredients or a few more, the pasta-making process is the same.
Let the dough sit for at least 20 minutes. Now comes the fun part: making the pasta shapes.
For orecchiette, roll the dough out into a skinny log, cut off a small piece, flatten it out with a knife and press your thumb into the dough to form the little "ear." Like so:
For cavatelli, use your index and middle finger to form longer, thinner pockets, like this:
To make trofie, form a skinnier tube of dough, cut it and use your thumb (and some kind of magic, or just a lot of practice) to press down and form long spirals, like this:
If you're looking for something simpler, fettuccine doesn't require any fancy twisting. The trick is rolling the dough out thin enough and cutting straight lines. Use plenty of extra flour to make sure the noodles don't stick together.
In the end, no matter what your noodles end up looking like, they will definitely be better than anything that comes out of a box. And you can do it all without a pasta machine!