Orecchiette is my favorite short pasta. It means “little ears” and is pretty typical of southern Italy. I like it best because it holds the sauce in its little pocket, and when it is made fresh, the texture is absolutely delicious.
Count on prepping this two hours ahead. You will need 1/2 hour to rest the dough once assembled, a 1/2 hour to shape, and an hour to let the pasta dry. As a result, this is something I would only make on familia Sunday – maybe when I have extra hands to help or a little extra time. We are just too busy during the week.
Homemade pasta is the more flavorful than dried, and while you can certainly use all-purpose flour (I often do), a good quality fine-grade semolina flour makes a world of difference in texture and bite. Also, when you do little hand-rolled or knife shapes, I think it is a bit of fun. So if you have the time and resources, give it a try. This is a great-tasting semolina flour from Naples from Amazon and is the one I used for the recipe. Rimacinata refers to it being ground finely – this is idea for pasta and pizza dough. Pro-tip – when buying bags of flour of the internet, I put it in the freezer for 24 hours and then store in an air-tight container.
Serving size – 5-6 adults
You will need:
- 3 to 3 1/3 cups of semolina flour
- 1 cup water, room temperature
- 2/3 tsp fine salt
- Place flour on a large pastry or cutting board and make a well in the center with your hand. Add salt to the center.
- Add water a little at a time, working the dough with your hand and making sure it is incorporated before adding more. You can use a tablespoon or your hand, whichever is easier for you.
- Knead the dough for about 6-7 minutes, until it is elastic and put together. You don’t want to overwork it and get it sticky.
- Form a dough ball and let it rest under a kitchen towel for 30 minutes.
- When rested, use a knife to cut off a portion of the dough. Roll into a snake shape until it is about one inch thick.
- Cut off slices about 1 cm wide.
- Use a knife with a round tip (like a typical dinner knife). Roll the slice towards you, pressing down.
- Then, take the pasta and shape it around your index finger on the opposite side. Repeat.
- Be sure not to place them sticking together, but giving a little room. Let the pasta dry for an hour before serving.
- *You may need to dust the board a bit with additional semolina flour.