is a kind of home-made pasta
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat , water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the...
typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...
means ear, and the suffix 'etto' means 'small'. In the vernacular of Taranto
Taranto is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base....
it is called recchietedd, or chiancaredd
. A slightly flatter version is called 'cencioni', while in the vernacular of Bari, strascinate
are more similar to cavatelli
. In China a similar type of pasta is called maoerdo
An 'orecchietta' is a disc of about 2 cm (¾ inch) and looks like a small dome with its center thinner than its edge and with a rough surface. Like other kinds of home-made pasta, orecchiette are made with durum wheat, water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...
, but unlike pasta all'uovo
, eggs are rarely used in the preparation of orecchiette.
The typical regional recipe combines orecchiette with vegetables, usually cime di rapa
Rapini Rapini Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe (or Raap or Raab), Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rape, Rappi, Friarielli (in Naples) is a common vegetable in the cuisines of southern Italy (in particular Basilicata , Puglia, and Sicily), Galicia (northwestern Spain), and China...
, broccoli raab).
An Italian cookbook Il cucchiaio d'argento
Il cucchiaio d'argento is a major Italian cookbook, a kitchen reference work originally published in 1950 by the design and architecture magazine Domus. It contains about 2000 recipes drawn from all over Italy, and has gone through eight editions...
available in an English translation (The Silver Spoon
, 2005, Phaidon) suggests that orecchiette are ideal for vegetable sauces.
In Southern Italy, women sit outdoors in the spring and make the dough into small cylinders, which they cut into little cubes. Then they press down each cube with their right thumb, dragging it on the board, thus making it curl slightly [at this stage you have a 'strascinata']. Then they insert their thumb on the reverse side, making it pop out with a little convex bulge.
Orecchiette probably come from the Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...
region in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
where a similar type of pasta has been made since Medieval times. This kind of pasta is disc-shaped with a hollowed center, usually obtained by pressing the thumb on the disc of dough; this particular shape facilitates the drying process so that the pasta could be saved for a famine. Boats leaving for long trips used to carry large quantities of this pasta. It is then claimed that the Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...
s, the French dynasty that dominated Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...
in 1200, brought orecchiette into Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
with its current name.