Puglian Pasta – Orecchiette

Orecchiette Pasta

My first attempt at making Orecchiette!

Every region in Italy has its own pasta shape and Orecchiette, is synonymous with Puglia. The word actually means small ears! Why? Because if you look close enough, its form resembles small ears! Orecchiette is made from semolina flour instead of plain flour which is used to make most pasta. This allows more flavours to be absorbed by the pasta, making it very tasty. If you want to have a go at making your own Orecchiette, check out this recipe. Although it is in Italian, it is very easy to follow and there are some great photos showing you how to roll out the little ears with a knife. Go on, have a go, it’s fun!

Italians are very passionate about their pasta, and each region has its own pasta shape and regional dish, depicting the local food of the area. Orecchiette is hugely popular in the Puglia region, in particularly in the Brindisi and Bari Province and it features at least once a week for lunch or dinner in most homes. It is usually eaten with ‘Cime di Rape’ (turnip tops or broccoli rabe). The Italians tell me it is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which makes this dish delicious and nutritional but personally, cime di rape is too bitter for my taste and I prefer to eat Orecchiette with broccoli, garlic and chilli flakes, and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, topped with a sprinkling of parmesan.

In Bari, there is a small street ‘Arco Basso’ where the ladies sit outside their front door chatting whilst preparing Orecchiette, just as they have been doing for centuries. They fire out these tiny little ears so fast, it’s incredible to watch. Check out this YouTube video and see for yourself! I have made Orecchiette from scratch (see photo above!) and believe me it’s not as easy as these lovely ladies make out. It takes a lot of skill and practice to make those little ears!