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Orecchiette carbonara.jpg
Orecchiette showing their typical shape and central depression
Region or stateApulia
Main ingredientswheat

Orecchiette (pronounced [orekˈkjette]; singular orecchietta; from Italian orecchia, meaning 'ear', and -etta, meaning 'small') are a pasta that is popular in Southern Italy. They are typically served with a meat such as pork, capers and a crisp white wine.[1]


They are a variety of pasta typical of Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Their name comes from their shape, which resembles a small ear. In the vernacular of Taranto they called recchietedde, or chiancaredde. A slightly flatter version is called cencioni, while in the vernacular of Bari strascinate ("dragged") are more similar to cavatelli, without the typical round and concave shape.

The traditional dish from Apulia is orecchiette alle cime di rapa,[2] although broccoli is also widely used as an alternative to rapini. Particularly around Capitanata and Salento, orecchiette are traditionally also dressed with a tomato-based sauce (al sugo), with or without miniature meatballs (al ragù) or a sprinkling of ricotta forte, a seasoned sheep-milk variety of ricotta cheese.

Their size is about 3/4 of a thumb, and look as a small white dome, with the center thinner than the edge and with a rough surface. In all variants, orecchiette are made with re-milled durum wheat semolina, water and salt.

In Cisternino orecchiette are made with slightly refined wheat flour, they are larger and take on a different shape, with deep internal ribs, very similar to an ear. They are defined recchie d' privte — that is, "priest ears". The classic peasant recipe of festive days includes the condiment with rabbit sauce.

The Italian cookbook Il cucchiaio d'argento[3] (with an English translation The Silver Spoon)[4] suggests that orecchiette are ideal for vegetable sauces.

In China, a similar type of pasta is called 猫耳朵 (māo ěr duǒ, literally, "cat's ears").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Florence Knight. "Florence Knight's recipe for orecchiette, pork, capers and white wine". The Times.
  2. ^ Zanini De Vita 2009.
  3. ^ D’Onofrio, Clelia (2005). Il Cucchiaio D’Argento. Cucchiaio d'argento Domus.
  4. ^ The Silver Spoon. Phaidon Press. 2005.


  • Zanini De Vita, Oretta (2009). "Orecchiette". Encyclopedia of Pasta. University of California Press. pp. 188–190. ISBN 978-0-520-94471-8. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  • Sada, Luigi (1994). La cucina pugliese. Newton-Compton.

External links[edit]