At about this time each year I start reminiscing (big time) about Salento. It’s most probably to do with the days getting shorter (why is it SO DARK!?) and the cold weather creeping in. I just want to be back in the sun and at the beach! That is where this post comes in. Luckily, food has the magical power of transporting you back to a place and time. So last week I decided to have a day making orecchiette with my brother. We put on some Italian radio, rolled some pasta dough and pretended we were in Italy. We just made sure the heating was on.
For those of you that don’t know, Orecchiette is the distinctive pasta shape of Puglia. Typically handmade using fine semolina you can often see Pugliese Mamas sat outside their homes shaping the dough whilst having a good old chinwag. This shape is widely eaten within the region and you’ll be sure to see it on most menus served with cime di rapa (a type of broccoli).
Known in the UK as ‘little ears’ you can buy this pasta from Carluccios and Waitrose, but it’s quite pricey. Making your own is incredibly cheap (and fun!) Like the majority of Italian recipes this is as simple as it gets. No pasta machine needed. Just a little bit of your time to hand shape the dough, which happens to be very therapeutic – a pasta making perk!
I used spelt flour, but you can use normal white flour if you like.
300g Semolina flour
100g White spelt flour
A generous pinch of sea salt
Method – Makes enough pasta for 4
- Make the dough – Weigh the flours out into a bowl and mix then pour them onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to make a well. Slowly pour the water in a little at a time, using a fork to incorporate the flour slowly. When the dough feels like it’s a nice consistency (you might not need all the water) start kneading it with your hands. Knead for 5 minutes, then cover and leave to rest for half an hour.
- Make the pasta shapes – Roll out the dough using a rolling pin to about 1 cm thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut strips of the dough approx. 2 cm wide.
- Using your hands individually roll the strips between your hands to make a thin sausage shape. Repeat with all the strips.
- Cut the dough strips in small pieces, then using a blunt knife press down onto the dough and pull it towards you. Turn the shape inside out using your thumb to push up.