paired with fresh basil and spicy vegetarian Italian sausage

Orecchiette translates to “little hat” in Italian, which is fitting for the hat-like, handmade pasta. Semolina pasta dough, which can be made of just semolina flour and water, is cheaper to make than egg pasta. Orecchiette is surprisingly simple— you don’t need a pasta machine, just a butter knife. As a result, orecchiette, classically made with a semolina dough, is known as poor man’s pasta. This was my first time trying semolina pasta, and I loved the yellow color and the chewiness of the bite. If I let my orecchiette dry a little more before boiling, I think the hat shape would be preserved more, and it would be even chewier.

Cooking fresh pasta is completely different than store-bought, dried pasta. For starters, since your pasta is fresh and has never been dried, you will never get to al dente, which translates to “to the bite” or “to the tooth,” to be still firm when bitten. Usually dried pastas are cooked al dente in water, then finish cooking and soften up a little in the sauce. Any fresh pasta will cook very quickly, usually around 2 minutes. When the pasta floats, it is done. Make sure to keep your eye on it and don’t overcook it, undercooked pasta is far better than mushy, overcooked pasta. Some tricks that I have picked up for making fresh pasta include keeping the water at a boil, so turn up the heat! Also, when your pasta is dusted in cornstarch or flour to keep it from sticking to itself, make sure to shake off any excess before boiling. The cornstarch or flour will make your water gummy, and if it gets too cloudy, it is worth it to bring a fresh pot of water to boil. Maybe even keep a pot of boiling water at the ready, for when you need fresh water.

Another exciting part of this recipe is the vegetarian, no-meat Italian sausage. It is comprised of mushrooms, onions, and walnuts, with extra umami flavor from sun-dried tomatoes and miso paste. Instead of rolling up the “ground meat” and cooking sausages, I just cooked it off in a cast iron as you would cook ground meat. I was very surprised by the accuracy of the texture — it really looked like ground meat! You can tone down the spice, but I think a spicy “meat” works well with the orecchiette. It may not taste exactly like Italian sausage, but I think it’s pretty close.


  • 454 g semolina flour


  1. For the orecchiette, make a well with the semolina flour, then pour the water into the center. Use a fork to incorporate the flour, little by little, until a pancake-like consistency is reached in the center of your well.

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