Homemade Orecchiette with Lemon Pesto in a white bowl with two forks
Homemade Orecchiette with Lemon Pesto

This homemade pasta needs no special equipment and can be well executed by novice pasta makers. There are two important tips; one, make sure to allow the dough time to rest so that the flour is properly hydrated, and two, when shaping the dough with your thumb press hard so that the orecchiette are not too thick. If you find that the pasta is sticking to your board even though it is well floured, you likely need to add more flour to the dough. Knead more semolina in, then allow it to rest again for a few minutes before resuming. This recipe is part of a menu designed for two people. Double the recipe if you’d like it to serve 4.

Homemade Orecchiette with Lemon Pesto

Homemade Orecchiette with Lemon Pesto in a white bowl with two forks
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
This homemade pasta needs no special equipment and can be well executed by novice pasta makers. There are two important tips; one, make sure to allow the dough time to rest so that the flour is properly hydrated, and two, when shaping the dough with your thumb press hard so that the orecchiette are not too thick. If you find that the pasta is sticking to your board even though it is well floured, you likely need to add more flour to the dough. Knead more semolina in, then allow it to rest again for a few minutes before resuming. This recipe is part of a menu designed for two people. Double the recipe if you’d like it to serve 4. The bright and lemony pesto comes by way of Elizabeth Minchilli, who learned it while traveling through Sicily.
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Course Main Course
Servings 2

Ingredients
 

  • ½ cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup (25 grams) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for garnish
  • ¾ cup (25 grams) loosely packed basil
  • ½ garlic clove
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ salt, plus more for the pasta water

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about 8 cups) and add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Keep warm over low heat until you are ready to cook the pasta.
  • Place the semolina into a bowl and slowly add the ¼ cup of water, stirring with a fork. When the dough begins to come together, use your hands to finish kneading it until all of the flour is incorporated. Transfer it to a wooden board and knead the dough, adding more flour if needed to keep it from sticking. It should take about 3-5 minutes of kneading to create a smooth ball of pasta dough. If it is still sticky, add enough flour and continue kneading until it is smooth. Cover with the bowl, or wrap in plastic, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. You can also make this ahead of time and keep refrigerated.
  • Divide the dough into 2 pieces and working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a long log. Cut it into pieces all the same size, roughly the size of a small hazelnut. Using your thumb, press down on a piece and roll it away from you. Keep the board dusted with semolina flour to avoid sticking while you continue to make all of the pasta this way. As you work, you can place the finished pasta onto a plate or sheet pan dusted with semolina flour. When you have finished with all of the dough, set it aside while you begin to make the sauce.
  • Grate the zest from the half lemon into a medium bowl. You should have close to a teaspoon of zest. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the quarter cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and stir until you have a paste. Add some freshly cracked black pepper and two teaspoons of juice from the lemon.
  • Using a small food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree the basil and garlic with a tablespoon of water, just enough to allow the basil and garlic to puree finely. Add about half of the lemon cheese mixture to the basil and garlic and pulse to combine.
  • Return the pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta in the salted, boiling water for 4 minutes. Test for doneness. The amount of time will depend on how thick the orecchiette is.
  • Using a slotted spoon, ladle the orecchiette directly into the bowl with the lemon cheese mixture. Stir to combine, then pour half of the basil dressing over top and continue to stir until the pasta is well coated. If it needs more seasoning, add a few more pinches of salt. Serve with extra cheese and freshly cracked black pepper at the table.

Notes

You will not use all of the basil mixture, however it’s best to make the full amount. A smaller amount is too little to properly blend in a mini food processor or immersion blender. Save the remaining for a salad dressing the next day, adding a little more olive oil and salt and pepper to it before tossing it with greens.
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