How to make orecchiette

How to make orecchiette

Orecchiette is a hand-shaped pasta from Puglia in southern Italy. The names translates from Italian as ‘small ears’, which describes their form – small, curved shapes made using a butter knife then folded back over the thumb. It is traditionally served as Orecchiette con cime di rapa, a simple, light preparation with broccoli rabe, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chilli or red pepper flakes.

Thanks to its lack of eggs, orecchiette pasta is one of the few fresh pastas that is suitable for vegans.

How to make orecchiette

  • 200g of semolina
  • 100ml of warm water
Place the semolina into a bowl and slowly pour in the water. Use a fork to bring the dough together
Once the dough has come together, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 7–8 minutes until the dough is firm and springs back when you push your thumb into it. If the dough is a little sticky, add more flour, or a bit too firm, a little more water – the temperature of the water and humidity of the room will affect your dough
Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes
Take a portion from the dough and roll out into a 1.5cm thick sausage. Cover the rest of the dough whilst you work. Slice the length of pasta into 8mm pieces
Using a table knife, push the dough down and towards yourself. The dough should stretch and curl over the knife
Take your thumb, and invert the pasta curl back over it, creating that inside-out shape
Store on a tray covered with semolina while making the rest – this will prevent them sticking together
You can cook fresh in salted boiling water for 4–5 minutes, or leave them out to dry overnight and store in an airtight container until ready to use. The dried pasta will take 8–10 minutes to cook

Serving suggestions

Orecchiette is a very versatile pasta, and can be served with just about anything – a chunky ragù would make a great pairing, or even a simple tomato sauce. In his striking dish, chef Lorenzo Cogo serves orecchiette with a vibrant watercress purée and sliced mussels, while Angelo Sabatelli swaddles the pasta in a ragù that has been cooked for 30 hours for an intense flavour.

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