This is the perfect intro to making pasta with your kids. Known as ‘little ear’ pasta, orecchiette looks like cute little cups. Or pig’s ears. It’s mind-boggling to watch children’s faces as you turn a heap of flour on the counter into handmade pasta without the use of a machine! It’s also such a rush to make a water-filled well out of the flour and carefully incorporate the sides without letting the water escape. Making orecchiette and Alfredo sauce with kids is both satisfying and delicious.
Making Pasta with Kids: The Volcano Technique
You want to mound the semolina and all-purpose flours and salt into a pile on a large, clean work surface. Using your fingers, swirl together until combined and create a well in center. This is your volcano. Pour ½ c. water into the well. Gradually, your kids can burrow their fingers into the sides in order to incorporate the flours into the water. It’s a sticky, gooey, fun mess!
Making a Rope out of the Pasta Dough
The trick is to use the tip of a dull knife to create the ‘ear’ shapes. After you make a long rope, you can slice bits from the strand and roll each one. I use a sharper knife to slice the 1/2-inch pieces, and then the dull, rounded-edge one for forming the orecchiette.
When you have a whole sheet pan full of pasta, dust them with semolina so that they don’t stick. I had to re-roll a few because of sticking.
Rich Alfredo Sauce
The last step is the tastiest!! A good Alfredo sauce is imperative for this dish, and so easy for kids to make as well. The trick here is to mix in the Parmesan at the very end, and don’t let it sit too long, as it can separate. A good rich cream is your best friend. For extra protein, you can add some chicken, bacon, or ham. Tossing in some fresh peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking adds some colour and great crunch.
Kid-Made Orecchiette with Alfredo Sauce
- For the Pasta:
- 2 Cups Semolina Flour (plus more for baking sheet)
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
- 1 Cup Water (divided plus more if needed)
- Alfredo Sauce:
- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Teaspoons Garlic Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
- 2 Cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Mound semolina and all-purpose flours and salt into a pile on a large, clean work surface.
- Using your fingers, swirl together until combined and create a well in center. Pour ½ c. water into well.
- Gradually incorporate flour mixture into water using your fingers, adding water, 1 T. at a time, until mixture begins to form a dough.
- Start to gather and knead dough, working it until no dry flour remains on work surface. Continue to knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Divide dough into 16 equal portions, and cover them with a clean, damp kitchen towel.
- Roll 1 portion of dough into an 18-inch-long rope.
- Use a knife to cut and drag a 1/3-inch piece of dough from end of rope facing you. You hold the knife at a 45-degree angle to the work surface, press and roll dough toward you.
- Unfurl each piece of dough over your thumb in the opposite direction to form a concave shape, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lightly sprinkled with semolina flour. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Alfredo Sauce:
- Warm butter and cream in a large saucepan over low heat. You will let it simmer (but not boil) for about 2 minutes.
- Whisk in garlic and seasonings. Whisking constantly for about one minute just to let the garlic cook.
- Add parmesan cheese and stir just until the cheese has melted and your sauce is smooth.
For more kid-friendly recipes that they can make with you, try:
Quick and Easy Pizza Dough
Homemade Munch Crunchy Crackers
Healthy Chicken Fingers