About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Pizzoccheri | Main | Risotto with parmigiano »



Today, I write my blog entry with very mixed feelings. My recipe, Orecchiette, which I'll talk about in a minute, was delicious. The sad part is this is the last pasta in the chapter. We will tomorrow be moving on to Risotto.

I have loved this pasta chapter. Every recipe I have made I have really enjoyed. Some of the dishes really suprised me, and others turned out exactly as I imagined them tasting. There have been very simple and quick pastas, and others that have been quite time consuming. But whether quick or not, I have enjoyed every single one.

Today's pasta is Orecchiette. Marcella explains that this recipe comes from the Apulia region, which is the region that extends over the heel and half of the instep of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula. This region has a tradition of making home-made pasta. But the pasta they make is different than that you find in the Emilia-Romagna region. Here, the pasta is made with water instead of eggs, and the flour is mostly of a hard-wheat variety. This means the dough will be chewier and firmer. To match well with this more rustic pasta, they use stong-flavored sauces.

Orecchiette is the most well-known pasta from this region, and it means "little ears". This is a hand-shaped dough.

The dough is made of a combination of semolina and all-purpose flour. Add salt and warm water, and that's it. The dough is mixed, then kneaded for a full 8 minutes. I found it extremely important to be sure and knead for the full time. I even kneaded for a little longer. It took that much time for the dough to obtain the correct texture. The dough then rests a short while. When you're ready to form your shapes, you pull off a piece of dough about the size of a lemon. You then roll that into a sausage-shaped roll, about 1/2" thick. You slice off very thin pieces, place the piece in the cupped palm of one hand, and with the other hand you press and twist your thumb, making a shape that resembles a little ear, or more descriptive, a small mushroom cap. The edges are thicker than the middle. You continue to form these little ears, and here's where it gets time-consuming. The recipe made about 330 little ears. That took some time to make them all, and I was quite unhappy that my back was giving me problems that day.


Marcella says the best sauce for this pasta is the Brocolli and Anchovy Sauce. That's what I made. I loved the sauce-very interesting, complex flavor with the anchovy. But what I really loved was the pasta. Chewy, firm, wonderful texture. I will most definately be making this dough again. I will be asking Marcella for her input. When I don't have time to form all of those ears, I would like to put this dough through my pasta machine. Would this be an appropriate dough for a thick-cut noodle like tagliatelle?

If you're at all interested in learning more about the art of making pasta, buy this book. Marcella does a wonderful job of explaining all aspects-the doughs, the shapes, what sauce to pair with what pasta, etc.

It's now time to move on to the next chaper-Risotto!

Comments (10)

Oh Cindy, they look like the pasta my aunts used to make when I was a child. My mom's family was from Gioia del Colle in Puglia. They made many interesting sauces with veggies that I wouldn't eat when I was little, but loved the pasta with a hearty meat sauce.

They are beautiful, and bring back many happy memories.

Palma-Thanks. This was a time-consuming, but fun one to make. I love that chewy pasta! Don't you just love how food can bring back memories? I'm glad this one brought happy memories to you.

Cindy, it looks like you did a beautiful job, both with the pasta and the sauce!

Did you use anchovies packed in salt? I find their flavor to be superior to those packed in oil.

Cindy, I am sad that the pasta chapter is over too - each recipe has seemed wonderful in its own way.

But I do love risotto too . . .

Marcella Hazan:

Frankly, Cindy, when I wrote the directions for making orecchiette I wondered if anyone would ever take the trouble to do it. You can buy decent orecchiette from such makers as De Cecco and Benedetto Cavalieri, and I wouldn't be surprised if most home cooks in Puglia aren't doing that. But the home made are so much better and by now I have learned that if anyone is going to go ahead and do it it's going to be you. It's too bad that you live at the most distant corner of the States from me, I would have liked to have met you.

Yes, you can put that dough through your pasta machine, but it must be thinned out considerably before it goes through the cutters, and I'd advise a narrower cut like tagliolini or tonnarelli. Is there no recipe for tonnarelli in this section? It's a specialty of Abruzzo and Lazio, and a terrifically satisfying noodle shape.

Cindy, I left a comment very early this morning, but I don't know what happened to it. I must comment, because such a stellar effort deserves a comment from your followers!

Both your pasta and sauce look spectacular! We make this sauce a lot, we do not tire of it. Did you use anchovies packed in salt or oil? We find the imported anchovies packed in salt to be of superior flavor to those packed in oil.


Susie-your comment came through this morning, I just have been too busy today to go in and approve it. Thanks for the comments. I have never been able to find anchovies packed in salt here. These were packed in oil in glass jars. I'll have to add that to my list of things to bring home from Italy.

Marcella- this pasta did take a while to make, but I cannot imagine getting that same wonderful chewy texture from a dried pasta. I was having a lot of back pain the day I made them, so that probably made it seem even longer than it actually was. I will definately make this dough and try it in the pasta machine. I'll have to look up tonnarelli in the book and read what it says. I do live a ways away from you, don't I? I would love to meet you also. Maybe I'll be able to make a trip to Florida one day.

Cindy, we have used factory made pasta for this many times with wonderful results, although there is nothing like home made, no?

I would be very happy to send you, as a gift, a tin of salt-packed anchovies. I get a great discount at our local import shop. I believe I still have your address from when I sent you the Healdsburg article. If I don't , I will PM you through Slow Travel.

I hope your back feels better very soon!

Susie-That would be so very sweet of you. I've never used the salt-packed ones. Let me know if you don't still have my address. Thank you again-I really appreciate such a sweet gesture.

Beautiful orecchiette! It looks like a job to be attempted while sitting down. I can see why so many people would rather buy them but imagine what they are missing - how sad!

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