Salento Orecchiette: the original recipe

The symbol of Puglia in Italy and around the world are the Salento Orecchiette, a fresh pasta format, which is prepared by hand, with a round and concave shape. Orecchiette have a wrinkled surface, a thick edge and a thinner interior. This consistency makes them perfect for seasoning in various ways: usually with turnip greens, but they can also be enjoyed with a ragù or as you prefer. The ingredients to prepare them are very few and for this reason making them at home is very easy, especially if you acquire the right manual skills which, as they are prepared, will come naturally.

Apulian Orecchiette
Apulian Orecchiette ©Ne_Cloud via Canva

How to prepare Salento orecchiette:

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 500 g of re-milled durum wheat semolina
  • 200 g of water at room temperature
  • salt to taste


  1. Pour the re-milled durum wheat flour onto a pastry board, then make a well and add a pinch of salt.
  2. In the center of the flour fountain, gradually pour in the room temperature water, then incorporate the flour little by little until it absorbs all the water.
  3. Work the dough for about 10 minutes with your hands until you obtain a homogeneous and elastic dough which you can give a round shape to.
  4. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  5. After the dough has rested, with the help of a pastry cutter, cut it into strips about a centimeter thick.
  6. Cut the dough strips into pieces of about one centimeter.

At this point, the time has come to make the orecchiette: you will need a smooth-bladed knife and the advice is to initially give the piece of dough a round shape. With the knife, press on the ball starting from the upper edge, dragging the blade towards you, until the ball becomes concave. Then turn the small ear on itself to give it the typical shape we all know it with. Once prepared, these orecchiette can be dried covered with a dry cloth. In this way, they can be stored for about a month. As for cooking, being a fresh pasta, it will take 5 minutes in boiling salted water.

Curiosities about Orecchiette

Orecchiette are typical throughout Puglia but have a different name in each place where they are prepared: there are “chianchiarelle“, the smaller ones; the “orecchie del prete” (priest’s ears), the larger ones or even the “strascinati” (the dragged ones). Numerous festivals are also dedicated to Orecchiette, such as “Orecchiette nelle ‘Nnchiosce” held in Grottaglie, an event in which various chefs prepare dishes featuring Orecchiette to revive local and gastronomic traditions for those who participate.

orecchiette alle cime di rapa pugliesi ©katrinshine via Canva
Orecchiette with turnip greens

Orecchiette with turnip greens are one of the symbolic dishes of the Apulian gastronomic tradition, especially in the province of Bari but are prepared throughout the region.

Tiella barese
Tiella of Bari

Tiella of Bari is a typical Apulian dish made with rice, potatoes, mussels and cherry tomatoes, prepared in the oven in the traditional terracotta pan.

Pasta fatta in casa
Homemade Apulian pasta

The dough is made only with water, eggs are rarely added as is the tradition of Emilian or Piedmontese pasta.