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.
For more kid-friendly recipes that they can make with you, try: