Tuesday, June 05, 2007

sunday afternoon entertainment

making your own pasta can be a fun & rewarding afternoon project provided you have a little patience and in the end, something to revel at once you're all done. the only caveat here is that depending upon how much dough you make and how you will form it, it can either end up being a relaxing activity or very tedious. with a larger amount, there is a lot of rolling involved for some shapes. then again, if you have some extra hands helping you, the job goes fairly quickly. something to be mindful of before starting.

i appreciate making pasta myself in that the fresh product cooks in no time compared to the dry store-bought kind and the excess can be dried and stored for later use. if you've never made your own, i'd suggest starting with a small amount of dough to get the hang of it and the next time around going for a larger amount. you can make pasta with the use of a pasta machine if you have one, but making it by hand is not difficult at all. in fact, this recipe is a no-machine one.

while there are countless traditional shapes you can make without the aid of a machine, today's post is for the classic rounded and indented one in the shape of an ear, called orecchiette, a very pugliese type shape. the version i making here is a bit different, shape-wise, in that it is more rustico (rustic). this means, it is a little thicker than the ones you buy at the grocer and the shape is more like a true ear rather than a round disc with thicker edges one commonly sees. when cooked, these "ears" have bite to them and are quite filling. the indentations in them provide a perfect little container to hold the sauce you serve them with.

the dough for the following pasta is composed of 3 flours, some salt and water; no eggs involved here today. its yellow colour comes from durum semolina flour (aka pasta flour or farina di grano duro, easily found at the supermarket) which also provides a denser texture to the finished pasta. sometimes i will just use durum semolina flour, salt and water to make the dough; this is really optional. often the flour used is the harder-to-come-by italian "zero-zero" (00) with a lower protein content than all purpose. to approximate this you can use equal proportions of all purpose and cake flour. of course, just all purpose will work, too.

i'm not really giving exact amounts here, only ratios. you have to experiment. it is easy and you'll not have a problem. so go for it!

oops, a bad blurred photo!
accidentally erased the good one, grr.

orecchiette fresche e semplice

southern italian hand-made eggless pasta


1 part durum semolina (pasta flour)
0.5 part all purpose flour*
0.5 part cake flour*

OR 1 part all purpose flour

OR only durum semolina

salt, to taste

warm water, enough to make a stiff but malleable dough


place the flours and some salt in a bowl and mix it together.

add water little by little and mix until you get a stiff but workable and soft dough. if you add too much water, add a bit more semolina. the softer your final dough is, the more difficult it will be to cut into neat rounds.

knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

cover and let rest for minimum 1 hour. this is essential; do not skip. once rested, the dough will be much easier to work with and much more malleable.

cut the rested dough into 1/3's or 1/4's. take one piece and cover the rest so it doesn't dry out.

flour your board and roll out the dough into a rope about 1/2" to 3/4" thick.

on a well-floured surface, cut the rope into discs which are about 1/8" thick. separate them as you cut.

take one and place it flat on its cut surface making sure it is well floured. with a finger, press into the disc of pasta dough and press and pull towards you.

the dough should form into a little ear. the first ones may not be so perfect; don't worry. it takes a bit of practice. note that the traditional way to do it is to place the disc in the floured palm of one hand and press it with the finger of the opposite hand. some people also use a blunt rounded knife (like a butter knife). it's up to you; i prefer this method.

place them on a floured tea towel to dry out as you form the rest of the orecchiette.

different sizes, big & small ones

once all finished, let them dry for an hour or so.

cook them in well salted water until they are al dente. they will float to the top as an indication they are ready.

these are chewy pasta so they won't be all soft and mushy. taste every few minutes to see if they are cooked enough for you. drain them and serve with your favourite sauce or use them in a salad with tomatoes, basil and ricotta and olive oil, salt and pepper.



Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

BB, I love your orecchiette - they really look like ears! I might have to try this since orecchiette, even dried, are pretty hard to find here now that Trader Joe's stopped carrying them.

I usually do the classic sauce with anchovies, broccoli rabe (or whatever bitter-ish greens are available), red pepper flakes, and a lotta garlic, with shredded parmigiana cheese on top. Untraditionally, I throw in a can of chickpeas.

Coffee said...

You have a knack of making the pasta sound like its a breeze!!!!!! And with your steps it sure seems like a breeze! :)

burekaboy — said...

hi em - LOL, i know, kinda creepy a bit how real they look. these are a bit denser than the regular thin ones. they're a no-brainer to make though: mix dough, wait a bit, roll them out and shape. all goes very fast since you don't have to roll out the dough as thin as possible with a rolling pin. that takes forever, especially if you're doing alot.

i like the (capers &) anchovies part but no to the broccoli rabe (you know what i think about that ;p) adding the ceci sounds very siciliano. lol, a "sopranos special"?

coffee - hey there :D these ones definitely are quick and simple. made another type of pasta, too.....now THAT was work :P thanx for the comment.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Yes, making pasta takes a lot of time, but the result however is rewarding! I've not yet made orechiette, only tagliatelle...

You did a great job with those pasta! Yummy!

shelly said...

These are adorable! The last time I made my own pasta my cat thought it would be fun to attack the strands as they dried :). It's amazing how the simplest things can so easily become a cat toy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing something I can actually make. I'll make it this weekend and send you photos.

burekaboy — said...

rosa - thanks :D i make pasta fairly often so i'm used to the "hard labour" of rolling but you're right, it pays off and is so much better. try your hand, one day, at making the orecchiette, they're fun to do :)

hi shelly - LOL, i'm sure my cat would have a field day too playing with hanging strands of pasta. but hey, how can they resist such temptation?? thanks for the comment :)

hey there "anonymous" - glad you found something you think you can make .... looking forward to seeing your results. it's pretty foolproof in terms of a recipe; just go slow on the water (i think it's about 1/3 of the amount of water per total of flour) and like i said, if you add too much H2O just add more flour. good luck, e mail me or leave a comment if u need any extra help or advice.

Maninas: Food Matters said...

wow, you're amazing! a pasta, too? actually, I'm not surprised! :) you're very skillful! :) and did I tell you you write really well, too? anyway, keep it up!

Vidya said...

fyi - no need to publish

The previous "anonymous" was really me. Not sure why you got it as anonymous since I chose the "Other" radiobutton for identity and typed my name. I have done the same this time, see if you get it again as anonymous.

burekaboy — said...

maninas - lol, i make a lot of stuff myself (that i can readily buy); guess i'm nuts. thanks for the nice compliments.

vidya - i published before i saw the "no need to" part :P anyway, i figured it was you in the previous msg but then i wasn't sure. blogger has been messing up my messages. i found about 10 of them in my settings. guess it shouldn't be a surprise that it didn't publish with your name. oh yeah, wanted to say, you can roll this dough out very thinly and make any shapes you want, not just these; you don't have to limit yourself to the orecchiette.

Princess Jibi said...

you are so amazing, this looks great.. i am just drooling here. Lucky thing I made maccaroni and cheese today. I know its not close to this. But I have a wild imagination. I hope my tongue does too...

and maybe one day i will make this too

burekaboy — said...

PJ - pasta is one of my fave things, too. i've stopped eating as much as i used to though!

thanks for your kind words :D

TopChamp said...

Are they always made eggless? I bought them recently and they were indeed chewy. But delicious. Yours look pretty similar!

burekaboy — said...

TC - basically it depends on who is making them. the store bought versions are usually with egg, i believe, as it is all mass manufactured (unless you're buying the fancier kind made by some italian ladies and imported and sold for 50x the price, LOL). in the homemade version, the southern italians don't add eggs. northern italians usually do. it's also a very regional thing and it may vary from home to home or be made with eggs for a special occasion. eggs were historically seen as a luxury item for pastas since, in their most basic form, they could be made from simply flour and water alone.

Vidya said...

I made it for Saturday dinner and we loved it. I usually don't cook pasta on a regular basis, so this was a special dinner, with made-from-scratch pasta. I tossed it with a sauce of tomato paste, soy milk, boiled edamame, turmeric and cayenne pepper...just some things I had on hand. Thanks for the recipe and detailed instructions.

burekaboy — said...

hi vidya - happy to hear everyone enjoyed it :)) hope it wasn't too laborious. making your own is fun once in a while, however. now you have a usable egg-free pasta recipe (you can roll it out also and make different shapes; roll extremely thinly though). your always very inventive/innovative version(s) sounds great; wouldn't have thought to put those together.

TopChamp said...

I had to google again. This time: Edamame - Soya Beans. The Daily Mail (never the best source!)says: The bean, which originates in China and is popular in Japan, is said to be the only vegetable to contain all nine amino acids. As such, the green wonder is a complete protein source like meat or eggs. It is also high in fibre, vitamin C, folic acid and helps lower cholesterol, while some claim it has aphrodisiac qualities.

Sounds amazing. Almost like magic beans. I bet Jack's beanstalk was grown from Edamame.

burekaboy — said...

hi TC - LOL .... that's what google is for :D edamame is actually fresh soybean. very popular snack in japanese restaurants, salted. they sell them now frozen in larger grocery stores where i live.

wouldn't that be funny if the story used edamame as the bean(stalk) in the japanese translation?! you never know....

chanit said...

כל הכבוד על הסבלנות, אתה ממש מומחה, ומה שלומך
long time... ;-)

Vidya said...

I made pasta again today...your recipe and photos made me do it. I have eaten pasta only twice in my lifetime before, and now I have made it from scratch twice in a week.

This time I used 1:1 AP flour to Semolina. The texture was perfect, even better than my last trial with all AP flour. Since the dough was so much easier to work with, I rolled it out and cut into very thin stripes, like spagetti. Since my last sauce raised a few eyebrows, I made a closer-to-Italian version this time...tomatoes, italian spice blend (the generic kind from the grocery bulk bin), turmeric (it goes wherever tomatoes go), cayenne paste (I usually soak some cayenne in water for a few hours, drain it and grind this to a paste and store in the fridge, makes weekday cooking go much faster), olive oil, fresh fava beans. I loved this version, so thanks again for the inspiration.

burekaboy — said...

chanit - todah rabah lach al ha-t'guvah v'ha bikur; nachon sh'yesh li savlanut ... ani e'daber itach b'do'ar.

hey vidya - LOL, twice in one week?!! i'm glad i could inspire you to retry the recipe using semolina flour this time. as you saw, it makes a big difference in the final texture and makes perfect pasta. there are all sorts of things you can also do:

-flavour it with tomato paste or beet juice instead of water or use cooked ground (pureed) spinach;

-add spices to it (jeera; haldi, ajwain, cracked black pepper, etc);

-lemon zest is good;

-make sheets of dough cut into wide strips and use it to make a homemade lasagna --> ricotta or feta, mozzarella, zucchini, eggplant slices, your own homemade sauce ....

your cayenne paste sounds very similar to my harissa recipe which i always have on hand, as well as garlic or garlic/ginger paste. i love it as it makes things go so much faster.

fava beans, fresh, well ... what could be better? i LOVE them.

sounds like all turned out great :) thanks for getting back to me about it. oh yes, (if you know this already then disregard), when you cut strips: flour the rolled out dough then fold it over onto itself several times and make a roll shape and then cut through in the desired wideness and unravel the 'pinwheeled' pieces. it goes much faster that way than cutting long strips.