Orecchiette resemble little ears, which is where they get their name, and is the traditional pasta of Puglia. A perfect orecchietta is just under 2cm across and has a slightly domed shaped which enables it to hold pasta sauce well.
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Lara Scala Quinn on marthstewart.com
Serves: 4 starter serves or enough tastes for 20
What to do:
- Fill the large pot with water and set to boil with the lid on.
- Measure semolina, plain flour and salt into a large bowl.
- Using your fingers, swirl ingredients together until combined then create a well in centre. Pour 1/4 cup water into well and gradually incorporate flour mixture into water using your fingers.
- Once all the water is absorbed, continue adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture begins to form a dough.
- Turn out onto a large, clean work surface and start to gather and knead dough, working it until no dry flour remains on work surface.
- Continue to knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Divide dough into 8 equal portions, and cover them with a clean, damp kitchen towel.
- Roll 1 portion of dough into a 45-cm-long rope.
- Use a knife to cut and drag a 1cm piece of dough from end of rope facing you — a grainy wooden cutting board helps grip the dough.
- Holding knife at a 45-degree angle to work surface, press and roll dough toward you.
- Unfurl each piece of dough over your thumb in the opposite direction to form a concave shape, and transfer to a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with semolina flour. Repeat with remaining dough.
- When the pot of water is boiling add the orecchiette and a tablespoon of salt, stir and replace the lid. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the pasta bob to the top.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop out into a big bowl with a little of the cooking water and then toss in a tablespoon of olive oil before adding your sauce.
- Orecchiette can be stored at room temperature in a single layer overnight: cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Any extra orecchiette can be frozen up to six weeks: First, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag and return them to the freezer. Boil directly from the freezer.
Notes: What does orecchiette mean? Name some other pasta shapes. What do they mean?