Orecchiette is a very recognizable pasta. This is because the name, meaning “little ears,” was given based on the resemblance between the two. This recipe made from durum wheat is typically served with oil, and small vegetables that are easily scooped up by the rounded shape of the noodle. Orecchiette originated in the south of Italy, in Puglia.
In Puglia, many sidestep Bari, a town that is big, and bustling, and lacks the quiet charm and scenery that many venture to the region for. However, in this town is a place called “Quartiere delle Orecchiette.” In reality, it is described as only about two narrow lanes, but here local women sit outside hand-making this famed pasta, upholding a family tradition. The process is described as, cutting the dough, and rolling it into the perfect shape in one beat. They are said to make a usually complex pasta preparation look simple. A long-lasting debate in this area centers around orecchiette and another regional favorite, cavatelli. Some say cavatelli can be made by turning orecchiette inside out, while others swear by a completely different technique. Either way, orecchiette is a pasta that is meant to hold sauces and vegetables, but it also seems to hold onto a deeply rooted tradition that stresses a careful blending of ingredients and meticulous shaping with one’s own hands.
Check out our recipe for Orecchiette con Salciccia e Piselli and our wine pairings to compliment the dish.
Contributed by Kara Scannell.