Orecchiette is a pasta made into small cup- or ear-like shapes. Orecchiette literally means "little ears" in Italian. The orecchiette pasta shape was designed to hold sauce and small vegetables in its cup shape so the pasta can deliver a perfectly balanced bite. Orecchiette pasta is traditionally made from durum wheat. The pasta shape was first created in Puglia, in southern Italy. You can quickly and easily cook orecchiette pasta in the same manner you cook most other pasta types.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove top.
Pour the dried orecchiette into the water, stir with a wooden spoon and bring the water back to a boil.
Boil the pasta until it is just barely tender, between eight and 15 minutes. Pull one piece of orecchiette out of the water with the wooden spoon after 10 minutes to check for doneness. Orecchiette should be cooked al dente, or 'to the tooth,' which is tender but firm.
When the pasta is done, carefully scoop 1/2 cup cooking water out of the pot with a measuring cup and set the cup aside.
Set a strainer over the sink and pour the orecchiette into the strainer to drain the water.
Toss the cooked orecchiette back into the warm cooking pot along with your favorite sauce. Use a chunky jarred tomato sauce for simplicity, or make your own sauce for the pasta. A sauce that is made with peas, pancetta and cream is a good match for orecchiette, according to the pasta experts at the DeLallo company, because the ear-shaped pasta scoops up and holds the green peas.
Pour the reserved 1/2 cup pasta cooking water into the pot with the sauce and cooked orecchiette. Toss the mixture together and serve hot.
Stir the orecchiette with a large, wooden spoon while the pasta is cooking to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
Don't toss the cooked orecchiette with olive oil before adding your sauce. Coating the pasta in olive oil will prevent the sauce from sticking to the noodles.