Orecchiette (singular, orecchietta), from orecchio (ear) + etta (small) is a kind of homemade pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Barese dialect it is called recchietedd, or chiancaredd. The traditional dish from Puglia is orecchiette alle cime di rapa. Around Capitanata and Salento, orecchiette are traditionally also dressed with a tomato-based sauce (al sugo), with or without meatballs and ‘braciole’ (al ragù) and/or a sprinkling of ricotta forte, a seasoned sheep-milk variety of ricotta cheese.
Ingredients for 400 g of orecchiette
200 g of all purpose flour
200 g of semolina flour
2 cups of warm water
salt to taste
If you use two types of flour mix them very well in a large bowl. Put the flour on a wooden surface and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the water a little at a time and the salt, stirring with your hands until dough is formed. You may need more or less water. Place the dough on a surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into long dowels about 3 to 4 inches thick. Cut the dough into flat disks about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Press the centre of each disk with your thumb to form saucer-shaped pasta. Place the orecchiette on a wooden surface dusted with flour. Make the pasta dry for 4-6 hours or for an entire night. Orecchiette can be frozen for several months.
Cook them until chewy in abundant salted water, drain and place all of them in a dish. Separately blend some hard piquant “ricotta” cheese with a tomato sauce, add pepper and season the pasta with it. You can also season this pasta with tomato sauce as usual (meat sauce is the best) after having sprinkled it with abundant grated “ricotta” cheese.