Orecchiette are the typical pasta of Apulia (Puglia), the heel of Italy. Nowadays you can buy them in many supermarkets all over the world, but local women in the region still hand-make them for special occasions or just for Sunday lunch. The most traditional way to serve them is with broccoli rabe and anchovy sauce.

Recipe Summary

40 mins
1 hr
1 hr 40 mins
1 pound orecchiette pasta


Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Mix semolina flour and salt in a large bowl or on a marble work surface. Make a well in the center.

  • Pour water into the well a little at a time, mixing it with the flour. Add as much water as needed to make a sticky but compact dough.

  • Knead dough with your hands by flattening the ball, stretching it, and folding the top towards the center. Turn 45 degrees and repeat until dough is elastic and smooth, but not too soft, about 10 minutes.

  • Shape dough into a ball. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using.

  • Work with one portion of dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered to keep it from drying out. Dust a work surface with semolina flour; roll out the dough to make a rope, about 1/3 inch thick.

  • Cut off little 1/3-inch thick pieces. Pick up knife with a rounded tip. Carefully hold one side of the dough with your index finger. Hold the knife in your other hand. Gently drag the small piece of dough towards you. Lift up the knife by the end in such a way that you get a thicker edge. You'll obtain a small disk of dough, thinner in the centre. Press the disk gently against your thumb and it will curve.

  • Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough. Transfer orecchiette onto a floured surface and sprinkle with more semolina flour. Do not overlap orecchiette or they will stick together. Let dry for about 30 minutes before cooking.


Cook's Notes:

If you are not using the orecchiette right away, let them dry at room temperature for 24 hours and then transfer them to a paper bag. Check them from time to time to make sure no mold develops, and use within 1 week.

Cooking time will depend on dryness of the orecchiette. If the orecchiette are freshly made, it will take about 5 minutes. If they are a few days old and dry, cooking takes about 8 to 10 minutes. In any case, as always when cooking pasta, the best way to check is to taste.

The best flour to use is durum or semolina "rimacinata", but in a pinch you can use regular semolina flour mixed with plain white flour, with a 50% to 50% ratio.

Nutrition Facts

sodium 40.5mg. Full Nutrition