Orecchiette pasta is a staple dish that hails from the beautiful southeastern region of Puglia. Meaning “little ears” in Italian, the dish is made by flattening out dough and simply rolling your thumb like a fingerprint onto the dough. There origin is believed to be from the time of the 8th and 9th century when Puglia was under Norman-Swabian rule. During the 8th century, the Angevins brought this dish to Bari. A local mythology of the origin of this dish said the creation was based on the roofs of the trulli. Trullis are traditional, small cone-shaped huts that came about in the 14th century in Alberobello. In Bari, the capital of Puglia, the pasta can also be found as flatter and known as stascinate. This creates an ear-shaped disc that resemble small bowls that have grooves from the fingerprint that are perfect at holding all types of sauces.
Known as peasant food in Puglia, orecchiette pasta is often served with broccoli or rapini or orecchiette alle cime di rapa. In areas like Capitanata and Salento, the pasta is served with tomato sauce (al sugo) or with tiny meatballs made from lamb with a touch of ricotta cheese. The cheese is usually made from sheep. Oddly enough, China has a similar pasta they use in their dishes and they refer to the pasta as “cat’s ears.”
When you guests come over tonight, you better let them know they need to be ready to be all ears for the meal they’re about to experience. If It’s Italian…It’s Flora.