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.


Homemade orecchiette
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.

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32 Responses to "homemade orecchiette"
  1. I love making home made pasta! I have a roller attachment for my kitchen aid mixer, so it’s something I actually crank out fairly often. I’d like to try this hand made version though. When I was in Italy in the summer I had this pasta dish that was just little twists of pasta tossed in with pesto. It was so simple, yet so amazingly good. I bet this pasta made into twists or into the little ears would be just like that.

  2. Such a labour of love! They look beautiful. I’m wondering what my son would say if I said I was feeding him ‘little ears’!

  3. What do mean by ” these were far from perfect”….they look wonderful, made with love! Isn’t that the beauty about homemade pasta, that it doesn’t look store-bought, but every piece is a unique creation. I love making pasta from scratch and this will be a recipe I will test for sure!!

  4. Erin says:

    That is so awesome! I have yet to make some homemade pasta, but it is on my list!

  5. These look so pretty! I’ve got a recipe for orechiette in my Bocca di Lupo cookbook but hadn’t yet tried it as was worried I might mess them up. You make it look so simple though, I might have to try this weekend :-)

  6. There are few things as wonderfully satisfying as eating your own homemade fresh pasta. We’re lucky to have a pasta roller/attachment for our KitchenAid, which I love, since i’m a sucker for long pasta like angel hair + linguine. I do love shorter pasta like orrecchiette, especially for hearty sauces like bolognese. Yours turns out gorgeous!

  7. I am impressed at your level of skill here, it is wonderful! Orecchiette are one of my favourite types of pasta. They hold the sauce so well. I should give them a go but feel this isn’t likely to happen now until next year. When I do, I will use your recipe :))x

  8. Labor of love indeed! My roommate and I made our own (very “rustic”) pasta in college, but I haven’t tried it since. The “little ears” are one of my favorite shapes, though!

  9. So gloriously rustic! I think I would find this a bit tricky, and it would probably take me ages… but it looks really worth trying.

  10. Ashlae says:

    I’m a huge pasta eater (and collector, too) and just recently made my first batch of homemade pasta. Officially addicted – homemade pasta is the best.

  11. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    These are beautiful! I was looking at the dried version in Waitrose the other day, I’m so glad I didn’t buy them because I can’t wait to have a try at this recipe! I’ve luckily not caught on to pasta hoarding yet as I don’t think my kitchen could take it as I have collected 7 each different kinds of rice and flour!

  12. Angharad says:

    I absolutely love orecchiette – my fave pasta, hands down. This looks beautiful!

  13. Wow!!! They look amazing. I would have given up haha.

  14. Ana Cooks says:

    it worths all the work!!! :)

  15. They are fabulous, just the perfect pasta to make at home! I don´t doubt they are more than worth it!

  16. I love homemade pasta but rarely take the time to make it. I think you’ve inspired me to give it another go. It has been at least a year!

  17. Kimberley says:

    Even though I had to stop eating wheat a year ago, I still totally share your sense for its magic. I sort of want to try making it with gluten free flours but fear a terrible result. I’ll just have to swoon over your images instead.

  18. Amee says:

    So pretty and rustic – much more beautiful than the packet perfect pasta.

  19. Bea Pe says:

    hmmm orecchiette remembers me my trip to wondenful place La Puglia and our italian host Antonella making orecchiette early in the morning. Great recipe!

  20. Joanne says:

    These little ears are so cute! I haven’t made homemade pasta in FOREVER because it always seems so much more daunting than it actually is. I really need to get on that again.

  21. I love those cute little ears! I imagine it’s like making/shaping gnocchi – it’s hard at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty relaxing :)

  22. adorable little things aren’t they… i have some dried versions that are so small they must have been made by pixies!… love love love your photography!

  23. Homemade pasta is one of the best things ever. It takes a while without a machine but the end product is always extremely satisfying. Definitely worth it! Your pasta looks beautiful and you’re right… it’s amazing what flour and water do together!

  24. I think your orecchiette look fantastic! While I’ve made other pastas at home, I’ve never even contemplated orecchiette. I know mine wouldn’t be as perfect as yours.

    Love your photos Kathryn. They are stunning and really capture the moment!

  25. Rachel says:

    Okay, so I have a recipe from the What Katie Ate cookbook that calls for Orecchiette, I can’t get it in my local supermarket here in Los Angeles (words do not describe how much I miss Waitrose living here), so unless I’m going near a specialist store any time soon I can make it instead – thank you for being a lifesaver!

    And, no you’re not strange for collecting different types of pasta. I think I would do it too if I had more than one kitchen cupboard (!) in my shared apartment, and I have been having a bit of a Nigella marathon, and she mentioned she collects different pasta shapes too, so you’re in good company!

  26. I’ve seen people make these on TV but have never tried doing them myself…one of my favorite pasta.

  27. london bakes says:

    @Anon – There are some instructions in my recipe (plus the pictures show the process of creating the ear) but you also click through to the Martha Stewart recipe where the steps are set out in more detail.

  28. tworedbowls says:

    This looks amazing! I’m so excited to find a homemade pasta recipe that doesn’t require a pasta machine or rolling. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you so much for posting.

    • tworedbowls says:

      By the way, Kathryn, I thought I’d commented here to tell you but just checked and I obviously didn’t — I did end up making this shortly thereafter and it was so much fun and SO tasty, too!!! I’d been waiting to try fresh pasta forever and this was the perfect introduction. Thanks for this :):)

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