Home » Italian Recipes » Orecchiette Pasta Recipe – Easy Homemade Pasta From Puglia Straight From Italy
Part of wooden cutting board on left and white marble surface on right. Both places scattered with fresh orecchiette pasta.

Orecchiette Pasta Recipe – Easy Homemade Pasta From Puglia Straight From Italy

Are you ready to try making pasta at home but don’t have a pasta maker? Fret not! Italy is historically a very poor country and I can assure you the ancient nonne throughout the centuries were only using a rolling pin, knife and their hands to make this homemade orecchiette pasta. 

Making pasta has always been a fun family activity for us but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I fell in love with the tradition of simple semola pasta made with just flour and water. No eggs!

In this article, I will share with you my Italian family’s recipe for orecchiette pasta including how to shape them at home without any additional equipment, and how to cook and eat them.

Whether you are looking for a rainy day activity with your kids, hoping to host an Italian dinner party or simply expand upon your Italian culinary abilities, this orecchiette pasta will satisfy your needs! 

What Is Orecchiette Pasta?

Orecchiette pasta being formed over a thumb. Below on table you see finished orecchiette pasta and some dough.

Orecchiette (pronounced ohr-ehk-kee-eht-tee in Italian is a small round pasta from Puglia made by hand from semolina flour and water. 

Orecchiette is historically a very “poor” pasta, referring to the tradition of making it from just two ingredients: locally milled semolina flour and water. 

For centuries Italian homemade orecchiette pasta was paired with sauces that could be made from local and resistant crops such as broccoli and turnip greens. 

Learn More: You can also hear how orecchiette is commonly mispronounced in Orecchiette Pronunciation.

Homemade Orecchiette Pasta Ingredients

Flour

orange and white bags of semola flour on grocery store shelf zoomed in.

For authentic orecchiette pasta, you will need 400 grams of fine durum wheat flour, commonly known as semolina flour in the USA. 

This type of flour is available for purchase at specialty supermarkets and also online here.

Water

Making pasta is easy but takes practice to get the exact dough consistency. In this recipe you need around 200 ml lukewarm water but this amount will change depending on the brand of flour and weather conditions. 

Salt

Add a pinch of salt to the flour when mixing the orecchiette pasta dough. 

How To Make Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

Pile of semolina flour on a white surface with an indent in the middle.

Pour out the flour onto a flat surface such as a marble or granite countertop or a wooden board. Using your hands, make a well in the center. 

Hand using glass measuring cup to pour water into flour to make pasta dough.

Add the lukewarm water a bit at a time with the salt, working in the flour from the sides of the well with a fork.

Hand using fork to mix dough on marble surface.

Keep adding the water in this manner until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough comes together into a shaggy mess. If it doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, just a teaspoon at a time, until all the flour has been incorporated. 

Hand forming dough for orecchiette pasta.

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and let rest for ideally 30 minutes but a minimum of 15. 

Ball of dough cut into quarters and sitting on a marble surface.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece and cover the rest. 

Rolled cord of dough cut into pieces and ready to be formed into orecchiette.

Roll the dough into a long snake, about 1cm thick. If it gets too long, just cut it in half and work with a shorter piece. 

Finger pointing to orecchiette pasta being formed at the end of a metal spatula. Some dough and finished orecchiette sit on the table.

Cut small pieces of the dough about 1 cm in length, giving you small squares of dough.

With a rounded tip butter knife, press down on a corner of one piece of dough, moving the knife towards you in a diagonal fashion on a lightly floured surface. Pick it up and invert it to flip the just formed orecchiette inside out (I like to flip it inside out on my thumb but you will have to play a bit and see what works best for you).   

Hands holding wooden cutting board with orecchiette pasta drying.

Place the finished orecchiette on clean, dry tea towels to dry out. You can either let them sit out and partially dry for a couple of hours or sit out overnight. 

To cook the orecchiette, bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil and add the orecchiette pasta. If the orecchiette have been completely dried, they may take up to 10 minutes. For pasta that has only been partially dried, check it after only five minutes. 

Drain and dress immediately with your favorite pasta sauce

How To Serve Homemade Orecchiette Pasta 

top view of white plate with orecchiette con broccoli/rape on marble surface.

Homemade orecchiette is a great pasta shape to serve with really any sauce because the little indentation of the shape holds all types of Italian pasta sauces, even non-traditional sauces like meat ragù or Bolognese sauce. 

Here are the most traditional pasta sauces served with homemade orecchiette pasta: 

  • Orecchiette con le cime di rapa (with turnip greens)
  • Orecchiette con broccoli (with broccoli)
  • Orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia (with broccoli and sausage)
  • Orecchiette con carciofi (with artichokes)
  • Orecchiette con le zucchine (with zucchini)

How To Store Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

Glass jar full of orecchiette pasta sitting on a marble surface.

After fully drying the orecchiette pasta on a dry dish towel, transfer the homemade pasta to an airtight container and keep for about three weeks. 

You can also freeze homemade orecchiette pasta after they have dried completely. Transfer the dried pasta to a freezer bag and keep for up to three months in the freezer. You can cook the frozen orecchiette pasta directly from the freezer. Just add a couple of minutes to the cooking time. 

Notes and Tips For Making Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

Index finger and thumb hold dough ready to be formed into orecchiette pasta. You can see the finished results on a wooden cutting board and the marble surface.

Shaping the little ears of orecchiette can be a bit tricky at the beginning. You will see that as you practice, your “ears” will get much more defined and the process will go much quicker.

Don’t be afraid to add more flour if the dough is sticking to your surface.

Thumb holding formed orecchiette pasta above cut dough ready to be made into orecchiette.

I find a marble board works best for shaping the orecchiette pasta but use any flat cooking surface you have such as a wooden cutting board.

You might need to add a bit more water to the dough should it be dry and not come together completely with the 200 ml. Temperature and flour brands can affect this.

You can make orecchiette pasta dough in a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid

Part of wooden cutting board on left and white marble surface on right. Both places scattered with fresh orecchiette pasta.

Orecchiette Recipe

My Italian family's recipe for orecchiette
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 400 g fine durum wheat flour (semolina flour)
  • 200 ml lukewarm water
  • pinch salt

Instructions
 

  • Pour out the flour onto a flat surface such as a marble or granite countertop or a wooden board. Using your hands, make a well in the center.
  • Add the lukewarm water a bit at a time with the salt, working in the flour from the sides of the well with a fork. Keep adding the water in this manner until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough comes together into a shaggy mess. If it doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, just a teaspoon at a time, until all the flour has been incorporated.
  • Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and let rest for ideally 30 minutes but a minimum of 15.
  • Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece and cover the rest.
  • Roll the dough into a long snake, about 1cm thick. If it gets too long, just cut it in half and work with a shorter piece.
  • Cut small pieces of the dough about 1 cm in length, giving you small squares of dough.
  • With a rounded tip butter knife, press down on a corner of one piece of dough, moving the knife towards you in a diagonal fashion on a lightly floured surface. Pick it up and invert it to flip the just formed orecchiette inside out (I like to flip it inside out on my thumb but you will have to play a bit and see what works best for you).
  • Place the finished orecchiette on clean, dry tea towels to dry out. You can either let them sit out and partially dry for a couple of hours or sit out overnight.
  • To cook the orecchiette, bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil and add the orecchiette pasta. If the orecchiette have been completely dried, they may take up to 10 minutes. For pasta that has only been partially dried, check it after only five minutes.
  • Drain and dress immediately with your favorite pasta sauce.

Notes

Shaping the little ears of orecchiette can be a bit tricky at the beginning. You will see that as you practice, your “ears” will get much more defined and the process will go much quicker.
Don’t be afraid to add more flour if the dough is sticking to your surface.
I find a marble board works best for shaping the orecchiette pasta but use any flat cooking surface you have such as a wooden cutting board.
You might need to add a bit more water to the dough should it be dry and not come together completely with the 200 ml. Temperature and flour brands can affect this.
You can make orecchiette pasta dough in a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid
 
Keyword pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating