Orecchiette Pugliese

all details

It's the modern dilemma: kitchens full of fabulous contraptions designed to make the perfect pasta, the creamiest ice-cream or velvet-like mashed potatoes. But we can't always be bothered getting the gadgets out and some people will always buy ready-made pasta. This recipe doesn't rely on a gadget "must-have" for a good result. Your thumb is the superstar tool. There's no egg in the dough, so some would argue that it's not pasta at all. But this flour, water and salt dough is cooked, eaten and served like pasta. Its name comes from "orecchio" in Italian, which means "ear", so here we have orecchiette - or "little ears". A southern Italian pasta from Puglia, it is time-consuming so those in a hurry should roll out enough for one meal - reserving the remaining dough for another - or enlist helpers. It's simple and therapeutic weekend work and the orecchiette keeps well, covered in the fridge for a week. The crunchy, salty sauce of broccoli and pancetta does all the thumb-rolling and kneading justice.

Orecchiette Pugliese
Photo: Danielle Smith

Ingredients

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 300g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ small broccoli, florets detached and stalks roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 100g thinly sliced prosciutto or guanciale, chopped
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (50g ungrated)
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Method

To make the orecchiette, combine the flours and salt in a bowl. Add half the water and work into a dough, adding more water as required, then turn out onto a lightly floured benchtop and knead until smooth and slightly elastic, about 10 minutes. Dust with a little flour, wrap in plastic wrap and rest dough for one hour in the fridge.

Pinch off one-fifth of the dough and roll into a long thin log, about one centimetre wide and 30 centimetres long. Using a knife, cut the log into small squares, each about one centimetre long.

Using clean hands, press one thumb hard into a square, dragging on the bench top to make it curl a little. Then insert thumb on the reverse side to make it pop out with a little bulge, to form an orecchiette or "little ear" shape. Repeat with remaining squares and set aside on a floured surface or plate. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cook orecchiette in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente, eight to 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli stalks in the last three to four minutes of cooking, and the florets in the last two to three minutes. Drain orecchiette and broccoli and refresh under cold running water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli and stir until tender, about three minutes. Add breadcrumbs and stir until golden, three to four minutes. Remove half the mixture and set aside.

Add the prosciutto to the same pan and cook until golden, three minutes. Add the cooked broccoli, lemon rind and orecchiette and toss through until hot and combined, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a large platter, scattered with the reserved crumb mixture, pecorino and parsley.

 

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  • Main Ingredients - Pasta, Broccoli
  • Cuisine - Italian
  • Course - Lunch

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