Anna's Orecchiette

Anna Esposito says many younger Italians no longer bother to make fresh pasta at home, but their family always has fresh pasta for Sunday dinner and all the members of the next generation have learned how to make the family favorites. Her rule of thumb for quantity is an egg per person and as much flour as the egg will absorb. Her hands tell her when the consistency of the dough is just right!


  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Water
  • Ingredients


  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the two eggs to get a soft ball of dough; add more flour if necessary. Mix a tiny bit of water with the remaining flour and combine the two balls of dough, kneading well. No salt is added, since this makes the dough more difficult to shape. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
  2. Break off egg-sized pieces of dough and roll under the palms of your hands to make a rope about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough under the tip of your thumb. This will make the dough form a sort of cap over the end of your thumb. Turn the cap inside out as you remove it from your thumb and put the orecchiette on a floured towel while you form the rest of them. Let the formed orecchiette rest for about a half hour before cooking them.
  3. Fresh orecchiette cook very quickly. Add them to a pot of salted boiling water and check for doneness after just a couple of minutes. You want them to be al dente so they will keep their shape and capture the sauce in the curve of the pasta. Drain them well when done and put them back into the pasta pot. Ladle in tomato sauce from the pot where the meat was cooked and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately with extra grated Parmigiano cheese on the side.
  4. As featured in episode 2518

This recipe was featured on Season 25 - Episode 2518.

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D. Lynn Carmichael

Wow!! Thank you for posting this wonderful clip of Anna making pasta; it truly is an important keeper that should not be lost — and from Anna’s own cucina in the heart of Campania (if I recall correctly).
I would love to adopt you and Anna as my aunties, Mary Ann!!
p.s.: Tried my hand at orecchiette and I think Anna’s thumb-only method is easier than the butter-knife method for shaping those ‘little ears.’

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