I prefer cookware to diamonds, my husband knows. Now I want a pasta extruder, but not any pasta extruder. I want the one that has the bronze dies, like Italian cooks swear by. You see, bronze dies yield pasta with a rough texture, and the sauce sticks better. But the pasta extruder I want is only available in Europe. Figures. And it costs about as much as a diamond, too.
So, I have to make do without this shiny new piece of kitchen machinery for now. I have no choice but to make orecchiette. It’s formed by hand, and the only special equipment you need is a table knife.
2 cups semolina
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water
Combine the semolina, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix until a rough dough forms.
The dough will seem very dry at this point, but resist the temptation to add more water. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for about half an hour.
Cut the dough into eighths. Keeping the remaining dough covered as you work, roll 1 portion of dough into a ½-inch thick rope.
If the dough springs back as you roll it, cover it with plastic wrap and let it relax for a few minutes before continuing. Using a table knife, cut a ¾-inch piece of the rope. With the side of the knife, press down on the cut side of the piece of dough, dragging it toward you at the same time. Turn the resulting little cup of dough rough side out.
Make more orecchiette with the remaining dough in the same manner. As you work, arrange the orecchiette in a single layer on lightly floured parchment-lined baking trays. Let dry for a few hours.
Makes about 1 ¾ pounds, enough for 4 or 6 main-course servings. Cook as you would any other pasta, in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente. Orecchiette are essentially inside-out cavatelli.