As is probably evident from this blog, we eat a fair amount of pasta (and we would eat more if I had my way) but I will fully admit that it is not something that I often make from scratch.
Partly this is because I have a slight obsession with collecting pasta of different sizes and shape and colour (please tell me I am not the only one who does this) but also just because throwing some dried pasta into a pan of boiling water is quick and easy and delicious.
But if you have the time, and the inclination, I don’t think you’ll find that a Saturday morning of orecchiette-making is a bad way to spend the day at all.
I always find the process of making pasta at home slightly magical. All you have is some flour, water and a touch of salt. The fact that it comes together in an elastic dough at all seems nothing short of a miracle. That you can then boil these little nuggets of flour and water and get pasta – actual pasta that you can eat – rather than some sort of mush never fails to amaze me.
One of the great advantages of this recipe is that there is no need for a pasta machine or to roll anything paper thin. True, it takes a few attempts to get the hang of the technique of stretching the little cubes of dough, curling it round the back of a knife and flicking it back over your thumb but once you’ve mastered it, it’s one of those repetitive jobs that actually is quite fun.
I’ll be the first to admit that my pasta could have been slightly thinner; my little “ears” (which orecchiette are named for) were far from perfect. But when I took the first bite of that silky smooth pasta, I was hooked.
There is a (very large) place in my life for dried pasta but this? This is something completely different.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2012
Yield: Serves 4
- 170g (1 cup) durum wheat flour (or semolina flour)
- 65g (1/2 cup) “00” flour (or regular plain flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water, divided
Place all the dry ingredients on a clean work surface and swirl to combine.
Make a well in the middle and pour in half the water. Use your fingers to bring everything together into a dough adding the remaining water bit by bit.
Knead for five minutes (I threw it in my stand mixer) until the dough is elastic.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
Roll each one out into a sausage about 18 inches long. Cut into cubes about half an inch long.
Place the blunt side of a knife at the top of the cube of dough and a slight angle from the surface and drag towards you until the dough wraps round the back of the knife.
Unfurl it over your thumb to make the ‘ear’ shape.
Set aside in a single layer on a baking tray until ready to cook. They can also be frozen as a single layer for a month or so and then cooked straight from frozen.