I have only made pasta from scratch a few times and every time I beam with pride at my creation. There is nothing like eating fresh pasta, it is pretty easy to make, but it can be a process and I have found that it is tough to make with only two hands. I love the idea of spending a sunday morning rolling out pasta with my husband, but he needs some serious convincing to be drawn in, hence the fact that we have only made pasta together once.
My aunt came to visit us for lunch a few weeks ago and I decided to experiment with making orecchiette from scratch. We’ve found them at Whole Foods in a box but the last time we bought them they started to fall apart in the water after a few minutes of cooking, which made me VERY upset. I vowed to never buy orecchiette again! Well that was months ago and I love orecchiette and started to miss them.
This pasta is so easy to make, just a flick of the thumb and you have the most gorgeous irregular disks that scoop up the sauce so perfectly!! I’m envisioning a few years from now when I can show my daughter how to make them and she may even find it entertaining! My dreams of raising a child who is into food, I have a feeling that they are all going to backfire on me, though she did try pasta for the first time the other day, and yes, she liked it!!
Any good chunky ragù would work well with orecchiette, broccoli rabe, which is a classic or the cauliflower and zucchini sauce that I found in Bon Appetit and few months ago, which is what we served the day my aunt came to visit.
Pasta di Semola for Orecchiette
Makes about 1¼ pounds
- 2 cups semolina flour (you can find this at Whole Foods, or specialty markets)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1 to 1¼ cups tepid water
Mound the flours in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough forms. As you incorporate the water, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). When about half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together in a shaggy mass. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. You may need more or less water depending on the humidity in your kitchen. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, the the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits.
Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 10 more minutes, disting the board with flour when necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Divide dough into 8 pieces and wrap separately in plastic wrap, letting it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.
Line each of 2 trays with a dry kitchen towel and dust you hands with some semolina mixture. Remove plastic wrap from the dough and roll between you hands to create a rope 3 to 4 feet long and 1/2 inch wide. Put rope on a work surface and with a sharp knife cut into 1/2-inch pieces, separating pieces as cut so they are no longer touching. Lightly toss cut pieces with a little semolina mixture.
Put each cut piece of dough, a cut side down, in palm of hand and form a depression by pressing thumb of other hand into dough and twisting slightly. Arrange orecchiette on a kitchen-towel-lined tray. Make more orecchiette with remaining 7 pieces of dough in same manner, transferring to kitchen-towel-lined trays. Orecchiette may be made 2 days ahead and chilled on towel-lined trays, covered with plastic wrap.
Two Years Ago: Pasta e Fagioli, Roasted Ricciola on a bed of Fennel, Pizza for Lunch and Pizza for Dinner, Marco’s in Riviera di Chiaia, Napoli, Fried Sole with Mache and Pear Salad, Babà & Melanzane alla Lina