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Homemade Orecchiette with Meatballs

How to make Homemade Orecchiette with Meatballs. Traditional pasta from Puglia, Italy. Adapted from Masseria Il Frantoio.
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian, Pasta
Keyword authentic Italian pasta recipe, homemade orecchiette, homemade pasta
Servings 4 servings


For the Orecchiette:

  • 1 ½ cups “Semolina” Durum Wheat
  • ½ cup hot water may need more depending on consistency of dough
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 medium onion diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1, 28 oz can San Marzano Tomatoes or other high quality tomato
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Meatballs:

  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ½ lb ground beef 85/15
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese loosely packed
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese loosely packed
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs loosely packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper


For the Orecchiette:

  • Place the dry flour on a large cutting board or clean counter top and form a hole in the center (like a volcano). Add water a little at a time and start to knead, adding the oil and more water a little at a time until the mixture is soft and very smooth, giving it a round shape. If it’s too sticky add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little more water.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave for 10-15 minutes, until the dough becomes elastic enough to work with.
  • Take a small piece of the dough at a time and form it into a snake like shape, or tube (though not too thin). See photos for examples.
  • Divide the tube into chunks about 1 cm long, using the rounded part of the knife, dragging each piece of dough on a work surface so that the pasta is curved, assuming the shape of a shell. Then, using your thumbs, work the shape open to get the shape of an ear. Alternatively, you can use your finger, and point in the opposite direction of the shell shape and push from behind, again forming the piece into an ear-like shape.
  • When ready to cook. Bring a large pot to a boil. Add plenty of salt, and cook until the Orecchiette rise to the top (this happens quickly so don’t walk away).
  • Serve with some of the sauce, meatballs, and top with Parmesan or Pecorino, and a drizzle of fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

For the sauce:

  • Place olive oil in a med-large pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook for approximately 6-8 minutes, until onions have softened. Add the tomatoes by hand, squeezing them to crush. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Using a hand immersion blender (or counter top blender) blend until smooth (or your preferred consistency). Add the basil, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

For the Meatballs: (makes 36 small golf ball shaped meatballs)

  • Mix all the ingredients and then roll into balls slightly smaller than the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet and fry the balls for 4-6 minutes (depending on size), until internal temperature reaches 165. Then transfer to the sauce to combine.