How to make orecchiette pasta shapes

If you’re looking to impress dinner guests, serving up homemade orecchiette pasta (AKA ‘little ear’ or shell pasta) is a sure-fire way to do it.

Made out of egg-free pasta dough, orecchiette are created using a quickly-learnt squishing-knife movement, which I explain on this page.

First though, you’ll need to make egg-free pasta dough. It’s easy:

• First, buy some durum wheat ‘semolina’ flour (available here on Amazon US)

• Then follow the simple instructions on this page to make your dough (note - you don't need to roll it flat).

Done? Then let’s make orecchiette!

How to Make Orecchiette Pasta Shapes

STEP 1 - Cut away a small piece of dough from your dough ball.

STEP 2 - Use your hands to roll this into a long sausage shape (roughly 3/4-inches or 1.5cm in diameter).

STEP 3 - Chop this sausage into cubes (roughly the same width as they are deep).

STEP 4 - Now for the creative part… (see video and written description below)

- Take a normal dinner knife.

- Take one small cube of dough and place the end of the flattened knife on it (diagonal along the top of the dough cube).

- Pressing down firmly, pull the knife towards you (the idea is that this ‘rolls’ the dough onto around the end of the knife).

- Position the dough-covered end of the knife at the tip of your index finger and use your other hand to pull the dough down and around your index finger (effectively flipping it inside out).

- Remove dough from your finger and pop on a lightly-floured plate.

- Repeat with the rest of the dough.

That's how to make shell pasta!

Tip: If you’re anything like me, your first few attempts at this will be pretty pathetic! But perservere, as it won’t be long before you’re squidging and flipping those shapes like a pro.

How to cook orechiette?

Take your pick from these scrumptious pasta shell recipes:

Pasta Puglia with rolled beef and celery

• This very special broccoli pasta recipe

Cooking tip: When cooking orecchiette pasta, be aware that unlike most fresh pasta shapes they actually rise to the surface before they are ready to eat. So once risen, give them a couple of extra minutes, then try tasting one.

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