Orecchiette Pasta is the Favourite of the Puglia Region:
Orecchiette is a typical pasta of the Puglia region. This ear-shaped pasta is on all restaurant menus and so it is no surprise that our cooking class in Ostuni includes the making of orecchiette pasta.
Cooking Lessons in a Masseria
This morning we are taken on a 6 km walk through the beautiful countryside of Ostuni. Our end destination is a traditional ‘masseria’, a typical Apullian converted farmhouse, where we are to do take some cooking lessons. I was concerned that my lack of cooking skills might cause me some embarrassment, but the ladies in our group admit that they too are not expert cooks. The men didn’t look like they’ve spent time in the kitchen, so making these intricate little ears seem like a challenge for all.
We watch our host make the dough and then she demonstrates how the orecchiette is made. She doesn’t speak English so we are lucky to have Giuseppe do the commentary.
She makes it look so simple, cutting the dough into bits and then rolling them into shape with her thumb and index finger. We are all given small amounts of dough each to make our own batch of orecchiette.
Rolling the dough into finger-size thickness and then cutting it into nail-size portions is the easy part. Next we roll the dough with the thumb and then transfer it onto the index finger to form the ear shape. We didn’t do too well in getting the ear shape.
For lunch we have orecchiette with a tomato sauce. I’m glad that the pasta that we are served for lunch are those prepared by our host and not the ones that we made. In restaurants the popular accompanying sauce seems to be with turnip greens (cime di rapa) which are in season. In all the restaurant menus, it is incorrectly described as orecchiette with turnip.
A one-step process in Bari
In Bari, we learn that Orecchiette is made a little differently. This time, it is done in a one-step process with a knife. I watch this signora make the pasta, but she is doing it so quickly that it’s hard to see how she manages to turn the ear in the one move. She manages to shape the orecchiette even without looking at it. All around Bari old town you can see women making these orecchiette.