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!

Orecchiette

Ingredients

Orecchiette

    • 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

Directions

Orecchiette

    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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

Sauce

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve hot.

Sunday Pasta: Trofie

And here we are for the second installment of my pasta series. This time I moved to Liguria and I made trofie. Trofie are typically served with the staple of every Ligurian home: pesto.

Trofie are easy to shape and little ones could lend a hand in the shaping process if they like it. All you really have to do is roll the dough between your fingers. But trofie are also relatively hard to cook. Meaning if they dry out too long they take forever to cook. So my advice is to make them as thin as you can and to not let them sit forever before cooking. A couple of hours should be more of enough  drying time.

Sunday Pasta: Trofie

Ingredients

Trofie

    • 1/2 lb semolina flour
    • 1/4 cup warm water

Sauce

  • 1 large bung basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • salt

Directions

Trofie

    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 trofie.
    4. With a knife cut a small pea sized piece of dough. Roll the pasta dough between your hands and then on the surface of the wooden board to get a thin log of pasta with gooves and thin ends as the ones in the picture. See the video below, is much easier done than said.
    5. Place the shaped trofie to dry on a cooling rack or on a kitchen towel for about 2 hour. Don’t let dry too long or you will have to cook the pasta forever.

Sauce

  1. The traditional way of preparing trofie is with pesto. Blend a big bunch of basil with parmesan, pine nuts and a very small garlic glove. Keep blending and add enough oil to get a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
  2. Cook the trofie in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. If you want to make this pasta dish more substantial, you can boil the pasta with diced potatoes and green beans. After draining add the pesto, using some of the pasta water to thin it out.

Sunday pasta: Cavatelli

And this month Sunday pasta is two days late and comes on a Tuesday. I can assure you it is a pasta you can eat on Sunday even if I published it on a Tuesday.

Today I am back to south Italy and I made you cavatelli. Cavatelli are close relative to orecchiette, only they are easy to make because you don’t have to turn them around. You can serve them dressed with a hearty, meaty ragu or with a simple tomato sauce.

Now that I have been making pasta a bit more often, I also have a precious piece of advice for you: don’t add too much water to the dough! You want a play-dough like consistency. If the dough is too soft you will have troubles shaping the pasta and it will turn out too thick.

And remember to enter in my first giveaway: a sample of chicken sausages perfect for grilling is at stake!!

Sunday pasta: Cavatelli

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Directions

  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 cavatelli.
  4. With a knife cut a small pea sized piece of dough. Using the knife, drag the pasta across the wooden board. The pasta will curl up creating a beautiful cavatello. If the pasta rolls up too tight use your fingers to open it a bit. See the video below, is much easier done than said.
  5. Place the shaped cavatelli to dry on a cooling rack or on a kitchen towel for about 2 hour. Don’t let dry too long or you will have to cook the pasta forever.
  6. Cook the cavatelli in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. After draining dress with ragu’ or a simple tomato sauce.

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