Friday, March 02, 2007

Home-made orecchiette with cannellini, tuna & dill

Orecchiette means little ears in Italian, but sorry folks I didn't do a good job in shaping... pressed the dough way too hard; it curled up too much. Due to the poor shape I wasn't planning to post it, but after I tasted this dish, I just love every bit of it! Love that undertone sweetness from semolina pasta and cannellini, love that clean taste from tuna and dill, love that floral aroma from Novello extra virgin olive oil, so now I change my mine, and going to share this lovely recipe to you guys!

For about how to shape orecchiette: (abstract from the book of Lidia's Italian Table)

First you need to make basic pasta dough (I used the first recipe).

Lightly dust your work table with semolina flour, cut out some pasta dough and roll to a cylinder, about 3/4-inch thick (I rolled a bit too thin). Cut it into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I'm not experienced, so I cut it thicker, easier to work with). Cut side up, drag the dough round away from you while pressing down lightly (I pressed too hard). The dough will form a cup shape around your thumb. (The following step I forgot to do) Invert the cup and press down on the center of the dome to make little ears.

Recipe of orecchiette with cannellini, tuna & dill
  • 2 servings of home-made orecchiette
  • 1/2 to 2/3 can (15 oz/ 425 g) of cannellini *. You can cook you own if you have time
  • 1 can chunk light tune in water
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • a small handful of dill
  • 2 Tbps butter
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • optional: Parmesan cheese *


  • Rinse the beans, drain well, set aside. Drain the tuna, set aside.
  • Cooking fresh orecchiette only take 2 - 3 minutes, please plan out the timing ahead, I want the pasta and the saute (the following) done at the same time.
  • Heat butter, saute onion for 2 minutes, add generous amount of ev olive oil, add beans and tuna, toss for 30 seconds or so, add salt. Use a big straining spoon to transfer the cooked pasta from the pot to the saute pan (as I want the pasta *a bit* wet), quickly toss all the ingredients (just a few seconds), scoop them on a serving plate. Sprinkle dill, salt and pepper (and cheese if used) to taste.

* My note:

  • some canned beans can be very mushy, like mine - Luigi Vitelli :( Do you have any good brand to recommend?)
  • In general people don't add cheese on seafood pasta, but since I used the canned tuna it didn't have much flavor, the cheese worked very well in my dish



Peabody said...

I think the shape is just great, much better than I could ever do.

Kalyn Denny said...

I think it looks great. Personally I think that on homemade pasta, a little bit of unevenness in the shape just adds to the charm. Makes it a bit more rustic. I also agree with you about the rule of no cheese with fish. Rules are made to be broken I say! Sounds yummy.

Unknown said...

These little 'ears' look just great, glad you posted it :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I think your "little ears" are beautiful -- just like the best rustic pasta I've had in Italy.

Anonymous said...

Your orecchiette is perfect! I haven't seen these in a while. My grandma used to make all her own pasta, every week....brings back great memories.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You didn't like the way they looked?
Your Orecchiette are really beautiful.
Cannellini and tuna are perfect with those little ears. So glad you put these up. Great photos!

Anh said...

These look great. Sure it will taste great, too. :) I want to make some pasta/noodle, but my timing schedule is getting tighter next week. *sigh*

Anonymous said...


They look amazing to me! You're my orrechiette hero!

Gattina Cheung said...

Peabody, thanks for your encouragement :D

Kalyn, thank you! Don't let your student to learn broken rule thing so soon *lol* But you're right, sometimes it just doesn't work.

Angie, thanks :D by the end the taste is everything, and you guys can master the shape, hehee.

Lydia, thanks for your encouragement too :D

Chris, it must be a lovely memory! Actually one of my friends (an Italian guy who runs a cafe in my town) was the one who told me about orecchiette, his grandma used to make it to him. When he shown me how to roll the ears out, I saw from his eyes filling with sweet memory!

Tanna, don't you think they look like mini-gnocchi *lol* But the bite is really fantastic, I can forget about the shape :D

Anh, take care your important tasks first *hug* Me too, the idea of making pasta been in my mind for months/year, haven't put into action until now.

Ivonne, thanks sweetie :D

Anonymous said...

Your are really good in making pasta, just a little remark... your orecchiette to me look more like cavatelli. I think after you have shaped orecchiette you have to turn the orecchietta on the other side (to invert them) to really form the shape of a ear.
Very good work though!

Anonymous said...

This is delicious Gattina. I love to make these! Yum yum!

FH said...

Looks perfect to me!!! They do look like ears.Good job!!:))

Patricia Scarpin said...

Gattina!! You and your amazing homemade pasta dishes!

I've been meaning to make orecchiettes for a long time but was afraid I wouldn't be able to pull it off. I feel more corageous now, I love your clear instructions!

Your "little ears" look perfect, I'm so glad you decided to post this recipe!

Brilynn said...

I love your little orecchiette! I tried making them last week, but I couldn't get my pasta to roll so I gave up and ran it through the machine to make wide noodles.

Helene said...

I love the look of them. I have tried to make some a few times but mine never looked that great. I love everything about your dish!

Bong Mom said...

I was totally at a loss when I read the post title :) Such cute pasta(?). Have never had them before and they look so cute

J said...

That is so beautiful! :) Your braided almond bread was really beautiful.:)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing! And those pictures of your home-made orecchiette are stunning!

Callipygia said...

I wouldn't mind nibbling on these ears, simply endearing. As for the tuna, after living in Italy and eating all the tonno in olive oil, the flavor cannot be beat. OOps sorry, think you asked about a bean recommendation? Never mind.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, I especially love the step-by-step photos. Not only are they helpful but very well done, they looked like something you'd see in a magazine! I'm going to be hard pressed resisitng the urge to take out my pasta maker this week.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Burcu said...

Gattina, they look great! What's the difference between orecchiette and gnochhi?

Ruth Daniels said...

I agree with everyone else. They look great! And I am truly in awe. You are my pasta making goddess.

Edith said...

I marvel each time I log onto your blog. You got so much inspiration. Lucky family.

Anonymous said...

Orecchiette is by far my favorite pasta shape! You are amazing for making them by hand...I think they look great! The tuna and cannellini, with dill sounds like an awesome flavor combination :)

Melting Wok said...

wow, they look preety, like mini navel gnocchis hehe :)

Helene said...

Absolutely marvellous, and fabuloous pics. :)

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Delicious delicious delicious looking article. You make me want to get out the pasta machine I got for Christmas (which still hasn't left the box) and go creative.

Freya said...

So impressive! I love orichette, it's my favourite pasta! Yours looks wonderful!

Saffron said...

good job darling!
it's very difficult to make orecchiette, I've never tried!

Gattina Cheung said...

Sabrina, thanks for your tip!!! It's so helpful. Right, I did miss that step! Certainly give it another try. Come to think of it, mine looks quite a bit of cavatelli :D

Bea, yes please do, super-easy!

Asha, thanks for your encouragement :D

Patricia, don't worry, they are super-easy to do, I just missed one step (as English is not my first language, mistakes always occur...). I'm sure you have no problem to make wonderful pasta, in any shape!

Brilynn, I think all these kitchen hiccups driving us more innovative :D

Helene, I just wish there's a video something for us to view. One picture is better than thousand words!

Sandeepa, oh thank you! I know, a bunch of foreign names... :D

jyothsna, thanks for your compliment. The braided appearance sometimes can fool people and think we probably slaving ourselves in kitchen, actually only took me a minute :D

Ellie, thanks sweetie! I just found out there's a perfect lighting from one window :D

Callipygia, you're such a darling!!! That's ok (forget the beans!)! I've seen that tuna in oil sold at that Italian grocery store, I thought, can food is can food, no differece... obviously I was wrong. I 110% trust your taste, yup, will go buy one!

Ari, you don't need a pasta machine if you intend to make these ears, isn't that easy :D

Burcu, here's another fantastic blogger has done gnocchi. Take a look, it's breath-taking!

Ruth, oh I'm really flattered! And I'm sure you can do it better than me :D

Edith, thank you my friend!

Joey, really thanks for your sweet words :D

Melting wok, I think so too, hehee.

Helene, thank you so much!

Scott, dig it out! Really fun, like playing with PlayDough :D

Freya, they are my favorite too *high five*

Simona, *baci* Haven't seen much update in your blog, hope you everything ok.

RetroChef said...

Ciao Gattina,

I have made the orechietti with homemade sausage and rapini sauteed in garlic and olive oil. The rapini and sausage are a wonderful foil for the nutty chewiness of the pasta.

Your rendition looks wonderful!


Lucy..♥ said...

Your pasta looks awesome, Goya beans are my favorite, never mushy....

Sulakshana said...

Your recipes are delightful. The best part is that styling is impeccable. What is the best way to get the photographs so vibrant? (I am contemplating a food blog myself)