Orecchiette Cooking Class

Today we drove about twenty minutes outside Martina Franca for an orecchiette cooking class. More than just a cooking class, it was also a chance to to spend a beautiful day in the country, meet people from other countries and learn about Puglian history.

In addition to teaching us how to make oriecchiette, the signature pasta of Puglia, Simona, our instructor taught us about regional pasta differences, the history of poverty in the region, and vegetables unique to the area.

Our fellow students were from Australia, France, Chile, Canada and the US. We had fun using our varied language skills from each other’s home countries.

Making pasta

We started by choosing an apron and learning about the different types of flour we would be using.

Making the dough was the first step. Some of us made white pasta and some used spinach or beet root puree to make colored pasta.

Kneading is a critical step in making good pasta dough. It also was an excellent workout.

Once I kneaded the dough to the perfect consistency, I thought the hard part was behind me. Not so. Forming the little ear-shaped pastas was more difficult than it looked. Two Italian grandmas assisted Simona and made the process look so easy.

We all improved with practice and produced an impressive amount of pasta.

Pasta made by Paul, Scott and Debbie
Pasta made by the class (including ours)

After our pasta-making efforts, we enjoyed a wonderful meal. Frise, a traditional Puglian appetizer of twice-baked hard bread topped with tomatoes was the first course. The bread is so hard that you soak it in water before adding the topping. It was kind of like a Puglian bruschetta.

Then Simona and the grandmas brought out the beautiful oriecchette we had made earlier.

Homemade (by us) pasta, nice wine, great company and a beautiful setting-perfection! Or perfettto, as the grandmas would say when we got our little oriecchettes just right.


Learning about the trulli that is Simona’s home was an added bonus of the day. I was curious about the trulli after reading about them before our trip and seeing the unique conical structures around Puglia.

Simona shared the history of the family who had lived in her trulli more than a hundred years ago and gave us a tour of the inside and top of her home.

We climbed very narrow stairs to get to the top of her trulli. Trulli are built without cement and stay cool in summer and warm in winter. Simona demonstrated how easy it is to climb to the top. No one took her up on her offer to climb it.

Five hours later, we left happy, full, more knowledgeable about Puglia, and ready to try making oriecchette at home.