Making Homemade Orecchiette

Just like my beloved Nana Lulu, I love making my own pasta. It’s therapeutic to me, especially handling that squishy dough. So when I have the time to do so, I take it. This was my first time making orecchiette though. In the city of Bari, Italy, grandmas make it in droves and famously sell it in the street. They can make it so expertly and quickly with ease. I aspire to that one day, but it was not to be this time. Mine were not perfect, but I was pretty darn happy with them and they tasted wonderful. The dough could not be more simple. This is an economical pasta with no eggs. The recipe is:

  • 1 pound semolina flour
  • 1 cup warm water

That’s it!

I used the well method to bring the dough together. I made the semolina flour into a large well with tall sides. Then I poured the warm water into the center and used a fork to slowly mix the flour into the water until it resembled a paste in the middle. After that I used a bench scraper to cut the rest of the flour into the water before I brought it together in a ball with my hands.

I kneaded the dough for a few minutes to make it into a smooth ball before I wrapped it in plastic. It needed to rest for 30 minutes to let the gluten relax. Then I repeated the kneading and wrapped it back up to rest for another hour. Finally it was time to form the orecchiette.

I cut a thin slice of the dough and rolled it between my hands to form a long, thin snake of dough. Then I cut a piece about the width of my thumb. This was all done with a butter knife. In one motion, I pressed on the dough very firmly with the knife and dragged it across so that the dough rolled around it. Then I unrolled it around my thumb to form the signature little ear shape it is named for.

This will take some practice. Don’t get discouraged. You will figure out how much pressure you need with the knife and get into a groove with it. It took me several tries to get something even closely resembling a little ear. It also takes some time and patience. Make it a weekend project and enjoy the zen of it. As you make them, place them on a cooling rack to dry out. These beauties cannot be boiled right away or they will lose their shape. Let them dry for a couple of hours before you cook them, or you can store them in an airtight container to use another time. I hope this has been helpful and inspires you to make your own delectable orecchiette! Don’t be afraid to ask me any questions. xoxo

Homemade Orecchiette