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6 of the best orecchiette pasta recipes

by Jessica Lockyer-Palmer

published on 16 April 2021

Until very recently, orecchiette, the small, round pasta hailing from Puglia, was the southern Italian region’s best-kept secret. Now, this mainstay of Pugliese cucina povera is having somewhat of a moment in the UK and beyond, gracing the cookbooks of the likes of Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi. The pasta’s unique concave shape not only explains its frankly adorable name, meaning “little ears” in Italian (orrechia – ears, etta – small), but also goes some way to accounting for its growing popularity. Whether coated in the cimi di rapa (turnip tops) sauce traditionally served with orecchiette in Puglia, tossed with pesto or topped with a meat sauce, the chosen sauce is guaranteed to gather in delightful little pools in each of the shells, making for a particularly enjoyable eating experience. Keen to get in on the fun? Try one of our favourite recipes, from a classic cimi di rapa-inspired version from Rick Stein (using easier to find cavolo nero) to Ottolenghi’s vegetarian orecchiette puttanesca.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-pot Orecchiette Puttanesca

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-pot Orecchiette Puttanesca

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ixta Belfrage

A speedy store cupboard supper par excellence, Yotam and Ixta’s anchovy-free twist on a puttanesca features chickpeas for added sustenance and paprika, cumin and caraway for added flavour. 

From the book

Ixta Belfrage, Yotam Ottolenghi

Pasta with Chickpeas and a Negroni

Pasta with Chickpeas and a Negroni

by Sam Sifton

In this laid-back ‘no-recipe’ recipe, Sam Sifton combines orecchiette and chickpeas in a simple creamy tomato sauce spiked with spices. The suggested negroni is optional but very much encouraged.

Broccoli Pasta, Chopped Garden Salad

Broccoli Pasta, Chopped Garden Salad

Super fresh and pleasingly verdant, Jamie’s simple broccoli orecchiette is a great way to pack your plate with veg.

Orecchiette with Cavolo Nero

Orecchiette with Cavolo Nero

Inspired by the cimi di rapa (turnip tops) sauce that traditionally accompanies orecchiette in its native land, Puglia, Rick’s sauce uses easier to come by cavolo nero paired with anchovy, chilli flakes, garlic and plenty of olive oil.

Orecchiette with Duck

Orecchiette with Duck

from Pasta

Theo Randall’s rich, smoky red wine, duck and pancetta pasta sauce proves that orecchiette can stand up to a chunky meat sauce as well as the more traditional vegetable-based varieties.

Wild Rocket & Pecorino Orecchiette

Wild Rocket & Pecorino Orecchiette

by Gennaro Contaldo

Perfect for spring, Gennaro’s wild rocket and Pecorino orecchiette packs an umami punch thanks to its anchovy sauce.

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