Sunday Pasta: Orecchiette

I have decided that I will try to post regularly about how to make different pasta shapes and how to cook them. I think I will start out with a monthly appointment on the first Sunday of each month and see how it goes. I am very excited about making pasta right now, but it can be quite time consuming and I am afraid, I might burn out if I try to make it too often. So I’ll start slow and see how it goes.

So for the first post in this series I am going to show you how to make orecchiette. Orechiette (literally little ears) are a dry pasta format typical of South Italy. They are originally from Puglia, but they are now commonly found (and loved) all over Italy.


Like most pasta, orecchiette are made using just semolina flour and water. What makes them different is the shape. Orecchiette are round and scooped, so they can hold pretty sturdy sauces, but the typical sauce is made with broccoli rabe. Just boil the orecchiette with the broccoli and dress with chili oil and you will have a meal fit for a king!


Yield: 4 Servings



  • 1 lb semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • Sauce
  • 1 bunch cleaned broccoli rabe
  • 4-5 anchovies
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • chili flakes
  • olive oil


  1. Place the semolina on a table and create a large well in the middle of the semolina flour. Pour the warm water in the well and quickly mix in the flour. The dough will rapidly come together in a smooth and relatively tough mass. Knead the dough until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough looks smooth. Place the dough under a bowl for 10 minutes or so to rest so that the gluten can relax.
  2. While the dough is resting set up your work station. Place a large wooden board on the table, get a table knife and get a couple of cookies cooling rack that you will use for drying the pasta. If you don't have the cooling racks, you can use a couple of kitchen towels.
  3. Get a small portion, about 1/10th, of the dough and roll it into a long narrow roll, about as thick as a finger. keep the rest of the dough under the bowl. Now you are ready to start shaping the orecchiette.
  4. With a knife cut a small pea sized piece of dough. Using the knife, press down on the dough and pull it towards you. You will get a thin, rolled up piece of pasta.
  5. Pick the pasta roll up and using your thumb unroll the piece of pasta and push the center of the little pasta roll outward. You will get an orechietta. To see the movement, look a the video below.
  6. Place the shaped orecchiette to dry on a cooling rack or on a kitchen towel for at least 2 hour, but overnight is great if you have the time.
  7. Sauce
  8. The traditional way of cooking orecchiette is with broccoli rabe. Bring water to a boil in a large pot (at least 1 gallon). When water is boiling add 1/4 cup salt and add the orecchiette. After 5 minutes, add a bunch of cleaned broccoli rabe. Let cook until the pasta is ready, about 5-10 more minutes. orecchiette should be soft, but still be a bit toothsome.
  9. While the pasta is cooking, warm up the olive oil and melt the anchovies in it. Add the garlic and the chili flakes and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Discard the garlic.
  10. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pan with the oil and the anchovies. Saute the pasta until the pasta and the sauce are well mixed.
  11. Serve hot.

This entry was posted in Home-made, Pasta, Primi and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Sunday Pasta: Orecchiette

  1. Liz says:

    So fun…I’ve been wanting to make my own pasta, but figured you had to have some kitchen aid attachment to do so – not so with this kind. Looks like a perfect way to spend a Saturday!

  2. Frank says:

    I am part pugliese so this pasta is very dear to my heart. So impressed that you made your own at home!

  3. these look great! such a tasty dish!

  4. Stefania says:

    Complimenti sono tutte ricette golosissime. Ho scoperto il tuo blog grazie a quello di Chiara de “la voglia matta” (, ne copierò sicuramente qualcuna! Ti racconterò dei risultati!

  5. Ciao Pola, grazie al post di Chiara ho “scoperto ” il tuo blog. Mi fa piacere che, anche vivendo in un altro paese, tieni vive le tradizioni dewl tuo paese! Anche io sono legato alla tradizione, infatti il mio blog è dedicato essenzialmente alla cucina tradizionale napoletana
    Le orecchiette che hai presentato sono meravigliose!.Con un po di tempo (devo usare il traduttore ) leggerò tutte le tue ricette.
    Un saluto ed un augurio di buona Pasqua da Napoli!

  6. Manu says:

    Hi again… I am back to let you know that there’s something waiting for you here: !

  7. lenia says:

    Ciao,carissima!Grazie al post di Chiara ho scoperto il tuo bellissimo blog!Ti seguiro con piacere!Se ti va,passa dal mio blog per scoprire la cucina greca!
    Greetings from sunny Greece!

  8. Adoro le orecchiette! Il tuo piatto ha veramente un bell’aspetto! Un abbraccio

  9. Roberta says:

    Ciao Polam,oggi scopro il tuo blog grazie a quello di Chiara “La voglia matta” ! Complimenti questo piatto è bellissimo e anche il tuo blog…mi aggiungo volentieri al tuo !
    Un bacione Roberta ! 🙂

  10. Federica says:

    Non ho mai azzardato a fare le orecchiette, penso combinerei un pastrocchio. Le tue sono perfette e con quel gustoso condimento mettono appetito anche di prima mattina. Piacere di conoscerti, passo di qui tramite il blog di Chiara ” La voglia matta”, in un post si è parlato di te
    Buona giornata, a presto

  11. maria says:

    Da buona pugliese non posso non farti i complimenti per questo meraviglioso piatto!!

  12. Well, now I know I will have to get to the store to get the ingredients for this recipe. Because my friends are coming over this weekend so I have to make this recipe for them. Thanks soo much for this recipe! 🙂

  13. Ely says:

    Un piatto assolutamente meraviglioso!!!!!! Il condimento mi piace tantissimo!

  14. Lily says:

    Amazing photos and recipes, I think I will be spending a lot of time here! kids loved pasta with tea Have a great day!

  15. Simone Woods says:

    I’m looking forward to the first Sunday of the month.

  16. alida says:

    Brava! I love this recipe very much and thank you for this tip on how to make orecchiette.

    • PolaM says:

      I’m sure there are better orecchiette makers out there, but I can tell you my method worked also for a first timer with very little patience!

  17. I love the sound of this new series!! Thanks for this lesson on making orecchiette – I’ve never tried before but now I must!

  18. Gio says:

    le hai fatte tu? ma sai che io non ci ho manco mai provato?
    mi infondi fiducia, mo ci provo!
    ottimo piatto 😛

  19. This is fantastic! I never dreamed I could make orecchietta at home but you make it looks so….. simple! Can’t wait to try this, there’s nothing like homemade pasta, thanks so much!

    • PolaM says:

      I am always amazed at how things that seem complicated turn out to be easier. Traditional dishes in particular almost always end up being relatively easy to make with the help of modern technology!

  20. Nicole says:

    Looks wonderful and you make it look easy! I suppose with practice and confidence! great post!!!

  21. Great tutorial and use of video! Orecchiette con broccoli was part of a tris that some Italian friends made for my family one night circa 10 anni fa. Mio fratello continua a parlarne!

  22. Tiffany says:

    This pasta dish screams springtime!

  23. I can’t figure out why the commentluv hasn’t been working under my comments recently. Do you have any idea. I am not that tech savvy

    • PolaM says:

      No, I am wondering the same thing sometimes commentluv works great and some other it doesn’t…. I’m thinking it might have something to do with loading speed, but not sure at all.. Sorry I cannot be of more help 🙁

  24. Great tutorial, hope you keep this going!

  25. Chris says:


    Great article. I’m impressed with your orecchiette making skills. I have never tried to make them at home. Luckily the old women sit outside their front door in the old town here in Bari and make them.
    One small thing. Your article says “Like most pasta, orecchiette are made using just semolina flour and water”. This is of course true. Commercially produced pasta is usually made this way. Maybe you should make it clear that most pasta made at home is made using 00 wheat flour and eggs? Home made pasta made without eggs and with durum wheat flour is actually quite rare in Italy.

    Anyway, keep up the good work


    • PolaM says:

      Hi! thanks for stopping by! I beg to disagree. As a general rule, pasta that requires eggs is done with regular flour or a mix or regular flour and durum, pasta without eggs should be made with durum. In practice, at home sometimes people substitute durum with regular flour because regular flour is easier to work with, but really durum should be used.

      • Chris says:

        I think we’re talking at cross purposes a bit. I agree that pasta made without eggs is usually made with durum wheat. The point I was making was that most pasta made at home (speaking about Italy as a whole) is made with egg.

        Anyway, as I said, I’m just being picky on a very good post 🙂

  26. Daniela says:

    Complimenti sei bravissima nella preparazione delle orecchiette. Deliziose le orecchette condite con quel sugo. un abbraccio, buona settimana Daniela.

  27. I never knew how to shape these so thank you Pola! 😀

  28. Raymund says:

    Wow I am impressed with the process of making those!

  29. I’ve never tried orecchiette. Looks really delicious! I love the video tutorial! The pasta must be extra delicious when you make your own!

  30. loredana says:

    Complimenti, sono ammirata dalla bravura nel realizzare le orecchiette, io ci ho provato solo una volta e, visto la faticaccia, non ci proverò più, a le tue sono perfette!!

    ciao loredana

    • PolaM says:

      Io ho provato il metodo delle nonne pugliesi che fanno l’orecchietta in un gesto solo, poi ho deciso di ripiegare su quello in due fasi per la nuora di Milano ed e’ andata molto meglio!

  31. Wonderful technique, Pola – your pictures and video explain it perfectly! I love orecchiette, freshly made must be even more amazing. I’m bookmarking this.

    • PolaM says:

      And they are not that hard to make! Given that here are difficult to find, I’d rather make them that hunt them down!

  32. Manu says:

    Bravissima! They look perfect! I love orecchiette and I love making pasta too! hehehe Yummy!!!!!!!!!! Well done!

  33. I am very impressed that you’ve made your own orecchiette. How amazing you are. I’m just a tad bit envious because I’ve never tried it. I love making pasta.

    This dish sounds delicious.

  34. Ramona says:

    Wow… this is too cool… you made your own orecchiette!! I am totally impressed!! Beautiful job!

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