6.20.2015

I'm All Ears

When I tell people that making homemade pasta is easy, they often respond that they can't because they don't have the right equipment.

Pish-tosh, I respond. All you need are two hands. That's how Nonna did it, and so can you.

Sure, having a nice Atlas roller and cutter makes it a lot easier, but it certainly isn't difficult without one. For first timers, I often suggest the easiest of pasta doughs - a semolina dough and making orecchiette. Orecchiette are little ears. Once you know that, all you can see are ears when looking at the shape.

The dough for orecchiette calls for only two ingredients: flour and water. Okay, for my version, I mix two kinds of flours... but that really doesn't make it more difficult, does it?


This is my first video for Cocoa & Lavender - details of the pasta-making
method are in the written recipe below. Peter Cortés, my friend
and one of our amazing Honors College students, shot the video and
did a terrific job! I learned a lot about the process, and know better
what to do next time. For example, I would form the ears with my left
hand instead of my right. I hope you enjoy; there will be more to come.

The nice thing about making orecchiette is that you cannot make it with a machine. It is definitely a handmade shape. (I am sure the pasta manufacturers have a machine, but it isn't available to the likes of us.)

Mix. Roll. Cut. Flick. Repeat. That's all it takes folks, and just imagine how impressed your friends will be! (Actually, it is really fun to make it with your friends, as I did here with Susan from The Modern Trobadors when she was visiting Tucson.)

Tutti a tavola!

~ David

Orecchiette

7 ounces semolina
1 ounce "00 flour, plus extra
pinch of salt
1/2 cup warm water

In a shallow bowl mix the salt & both flours together, add in most of the warm water and mix.

When it has mostly come together (you may need to add more water or, if you added to much, you may need to add some more flour), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and begin kneading. The dough should be pliable - not too soft, and definitely not crumbly. Add a little extra "00" flour if needed to make a good dough. Continue kneading for 5 minutes, then cover the dough in in a damp cloth (or wrap in plastic wrap) and allow to rest for 30-60 minutes.

When you remove the dough from the plastic, it will be a bit sticky. Knead it a few times on your well-floured board, then cut it into 8 pieces. Recover 7 pieces and roll the remaining piece into a long, snake-like piece, about 3/8-inch thick; I found it is easier to get a long rope by rolling the dough between your hands. Using a dough scraper or knife, cut off 3/8-inch pieces. Once they are all cut, roll each piece between the palms of your hands and then press your thumb into, and drag it across a well-floured board to create the ear shape. Let the pieces dry on a board or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used up. (Note: I have not yet mastered the technique Nonna would use - shaping the orecchiette with a knife. But my process works pretty well.)

A this point, the orecchiette may be frozen on sheets. Once completely frozen, put them in a freezer bag. By freezing them on the sheet, they won't stick to one another in the bag.

To cook: bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. (Did you know that you should salt the water just after it has come to a boil? It boils faster that way.)

Cook the orecchiette in the salted water for 6 minutes. Drain and add to your sauce.

Serves 4.

Here is a traditional pasta sauce traditionally served on orecchiette. It is a great favorite of ours:

Orecchiette with Broccolini and Shallots

2 bunches broccolini
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
pancetta, or hard sausage, optional
chile pepper flakes, to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Trim the very ends of the broccolini stems. Trim off the broccolini florets and set aside. Slice the stems and set aside in a separate pile.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and cook the shallots and chile flakes until shallots are soft, but not brown. If you are using either pancetta or sausage, you can add them with the shallots and cook until golden brown.

When the pasta water is boiling, add the fresh orecchiette and broccolini stems. After 2-3 minutes, add the florets. *

After another three minutes, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta and broccolini and add them to the sauté pan. Cook for another minute or two, then add some pasta water, as needed, to keep it moist.

Serve in heated bowls with Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.


* If you are using store-bought dried orecchiette, cook for 6 minutes, then add stems, then 2-3 minutes later add the florets for a total cooking time of 11-12 minutes.

40 comments:

  1. Lovely video, David! Very pleasant to watch (and so much better than the peanut butter s'mores "recipe" ones I've been seeing lately...ugh)! Good way to show that a pasta machine isn't needed to make pasta! :)

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    1. Thanks, Christina - I am so happy I haven't seen the peanut butter s'mores recipe yet! :)

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  2. I adore orecchiette. One of my favourite pastas, yet I haven't made it. Terrible, I know. Great video!

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    1. It's pretty easy, John - definitely worth doing! I am working on getting them thinner, and succeeding!

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    2. Orecchiette is my favourite shape! Love the little ears :)
      I was so hoping you would be on screen and talking! I only got see hands :(
      I keep meaning to start with videos but I'm so scared of being in front of a camera and talking! So, it hasn't happened yet.
      I have made many a pasta with my hands so I k ow it's very possible. I do have an Atlas now, but of course, it's still sitting in the box....one day.
      Love the pasta and love the sauce, love broccoli and broccolini with orecchiete.
      Next video....we need to see YOU!

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  3. Like John, HNF, I have never made it either! Great video! : )

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    1. Thanks, Liz - I am really looking forward to making more of them!

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  4. Terrifi post! I KNOW the orecchiette are fantastic, having had them with you.! Loved the video!

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    1. You need to come back, Susan - I am getting better at them since this first time I made them. :)

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  5. Hi David, loved your video, it made me want to run out to the kitchen and make some of your lovely pasta!! The music was perfect too, very upbeat.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - I didn't think it would be so hard to find music that worked! That actually took more time than making the video itself!

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  6. Great video! Great seeing you in action. Love the simple sauce, too.

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    1. Thanks, Nicole - the sauce has been a favorite of ours for years!

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  7. Nice job with the video…the little ears look perfect, David. I had orecchiette over the weekend but unfortunately mine weren't homemade.

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    1. They can be next time, Karen! Good luck with the house sale!

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  8. Great video! Such beautiful lighting!

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    1. Thanks, Mimi! I want to make the next one a little brighter…

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  9. I've made pasta before and still I use the excuse of it's just too much "fuss". This video proves me a liar. GREG

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    1. Greg, when I see all that you do, I feel like such a slacker. I know you will be making orecchiette before you know it!

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  10. I think I left my comment as a reply! Don't know how that happened....must be the fasting and the lack of food :)

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    1. Like you, I am screen shy. I am not fond of my voice, either. I have opted for a much less "me" centered series... hands and music... :)

      I love my Atlas machine - I have certainly gotten my money's worth out of it! But hand making the pasta is fun, too... Hope you get to try some!

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  11. Really professional looking video! And you picked the perfect song. I must try this now. Thanks for the tutorial.

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    1. Thanks, Caterina - I will share your kind comments with Peter. He is a very talented young man! And thanks for your comment on YouTube, too!

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  12. David, orecchiette pasta are a real crowd-pleaser at our house - looking at the comments above, not only at our house and homemade are the only way to go, even if it is quite a bit of work to prepare them for a crowd. I saw a recipe on MS a long time ago using the 00 and semolina flour and have been using it ever since - a great mix of flour to use for these.
    And congrats on your director´s debut.
    See you very soon in lovely Cologne - I sent you a mail via faceboook, hope that´s ok.
    Liebe Grüße nach Tuscan - btw should I shop/order anything special that you would love to bring back home with you...let me know if anything particular crosses your mind, please
    Andrea

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    1. I am glad to know you are already making them at home! It is probably really fun with the kids! I will respond back to you on Facebook - so excited to meet you, Thomas and the children.

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  13. I'm impressed no matter what. Easy or not, making pasta from scratch is still a production of sorts and a labor of love. Yours is beautiful and i LOVE the video. So artsy and cool. Lovely, David!

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    1. Valentina - I guess my feeling is that everything is easy if love is involved!

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  14. How beautiful. Homemade pasta is soooo on my list!

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  15. Love that you made a video David! And homemade pasta too, of course, who wouldn't be amazed! This is one recipe I need to try. There's so much comfort in making your own sunday pasta, and it's so therapeutic! Great post my friend.

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    1. Thanks, Paula! I love that you call it Sunday pasta!

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  16. D! I love the video. I wish I were there, helping you make these cute li'l orechiette. You make it look so easy. I'll have to see if I can make them.
    And I love your title. Very cute.
    Looking forward to more! xoox

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    1. Colette - it would be so much fun to make these with you somed! Happy weekend!

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  17. Lovely video! You certainly make it look easy. This would be a fun dinner party - all of us sitting around making little ears. :) I have made fresh pasta in the past, but not this shape - it's so much better than the dried!! It looks absolutely delicious, and it's making me so hungry right now.

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    1. Thanks, Cathleen! I hope you do put together a party and knock out hundreds of these ears!

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  18. Mmmh.... love orecchiette! Still haven't attempted making them at home, guess they are just so easy to buy here that I am lazy. But I know, I can just tell from your photos, that homemade are so much better!

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    1. Not to mention that the pasta available in Italy is amazing! I'd buy it, too!

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  19. Lovely, cheery video...so well done! Hope you make one about bread making someday.

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    1. Thanks for that idea, Jean! I was talking to Perer about upcoming videos! Definitely this fall when it cools down!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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