Description: Orecchiette translates to little ears in italian. This pasta shape has a few names depending on the size and region of italy. The shape is perfect for holding sauce or bits of meat, such as sausage.
Dough: Semolina Pasta Dough
Region: Central and southern Italy, especially Puglia.
Traditional Sauce: Broccoli, vegetables or a meat sauce.
Hand shaped orecchiette pasta made with semola (semolina) dough.
Prepare the pasta dough
In a large bowl, or forming a well, mix together the flour and warm water. Continue to knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic.
Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.See link for dough in description for more information on making the pasta dough.
Shaping the orecchiette
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. While working with one piece at a time keep the rest covered with a damp kitchen towel to avoid the dough from drying out.
Roll the dough into a snake around 1/2" diameter. With a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 1/4-1/2" pieces depending on the final size you would like. Place the a dull knife on the edge of the dough and press down, dragging the dough. Remove from the knife and fold inside out to create an 'ear' shape.
It is best to shape the dough on a wood surface such as a cutting board. The wood allows just the right amount of friction. The dough would just slide across a marble counter.See gallery for detailed pictures.
Drying and cooking
You can either cook the orecchiette fresh or dry it.
Fresh: Cook the orecchiette for just a couple minutes in heavily salted boiling water.
Dried: Let try completely for several hours or overnight. Depending on the humidity it may take upto a full day or more. Cook for 6-9 minutes in in heavily salted boiling water. Due to their shape and density they take much longer to cook dried. They should be al-dente but not hard in the middle.