May 24, 2012

Dinner in Rome

One of my favorite dinners in Rome was one that Margaret taught us to make in our apartment one evening.  Having had the opportunity to take a handful of cooking classes while spending the semester in Rome, Margaret eagerly shared her skills and taught us how to make homemade orecchiette pasta ("little ears") like an Italian grandma {that's who taught her!}.

After visiting the market and grocery store, we returned home with the essentials for a delicious, homemade Italian dinner: good red wine, fresh mozzarella and Pecorino cheese, Roma tomatoes, spinach, basil, and some warm bread.

Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • Combine the flour and salt, then pour in a mound onto your work surface.  Make a well in the center of the flour/salt mixture and slowly add water to the well, a few tablespoons at a time.  Begin combining the water with the flour and salt, slowly adding more water until the flour has absorbed as much water as possible without becoming too sticky.  Add olive oil and begin kneading the mixture on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth.  {Add more flour if it feels too sticky.}  Make a ball with the dough and cover. 
  • To the make the "little ears" of pasta: Pull off a handful of dough and keep the rest covered.  Roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick, and begin cutting small triangle shapes from the dough, about 1.5 to 2 inches in size.  Using a small spoon, press the back of the spoon into the dough to create an indentation.  Flip the piece of dough inside out, and carefully pinch around the sides to reinforce the indentation.  Set the "little ears" aside on a floured surface, and continue making the "little ears" until you have used all of the dough.
  • Boil water and add the homemade pasta a little but at a time.  Once the pasta floats (only after a minute or two), remove from the water.
  • Prepare the pasta to your liking - we kept it simple and sprinkled the pasta with olive oil, salt, pepper, Pecorino cheese, minced garlic, cooked spinach, and chopped basil and tomatoes. 
  • Feast! 

We served the pasta with bread and caprese salad, and it was definitely one of my favorite meals while in Rome. The homemade pasta was so so soft and delicious, I was really impressed!  I cannot wait to make it again sometime soon. 

Thanks for the cooking lesson, Margaret!

This was the bag our bread came in.  So fun!

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