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fresh orecchiette pasta drying on a board

Semolina Pasta Dough

This pasta from southern Italy is made with just semolina flour and water. You can make noodle shapes like linguini or smaller pieces like orecchiette or trofie.

The ratio of flour:water is easy to remember–2 parts flour to 1 part water by weight.

Serves 4


  • semolina flour: 300 g/10.5 oz + extra if needed
  • warm water: 150 ml/5 oz (note: 150 ml water weighs exactly 150 g)


  1. Make the dough.
    — Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
    — Add the water to the well in the flour and using a fork or a plastic dough scraper, begin mixing the flour into the water. Mix all together until a single ball holds together. If the mixture is too dry, add water in 1 tsp increments. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.
    — Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and rest for 10 minutes to allow the flour to fully hydrate.
    — Knead on the tabletop by hand for 8-10 minutes by pushing half of the dough away from you using the heel of your hand. Fold the dough in half toward you, rotate and flip upside down and repeat. The dough will become more elastic and no individual bits of flour should be visible. Roll the dough into a log or rectangle and re-wrap with the plastic wrap.
  2. Rest the dough. Rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature if using the same day or refrigerate overnight if using later, bringing close to room temperature before rolling out.
  3. Shape the pasta. (see images below as a guide for the technique)
    — Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Work with 1 portion at a time, leaving the remaining pieces wrapped up.
    — On a well-floured surface*, roll 1 portion into a ball, then roll out into a rope about 1.5 cm/0.5 in thick. Roll out the rope by rolling the dough back and forth (towards and away) from you using both hands as you work your hands from the center out towards the edges.
    — Cut the rope into 1 cm/0.5 in pieces, then roll each small piece into a ball.
    — Place your thumb in the center of a ball, use a thumb to press down hard to make the center very thin with thicker edges. Roll your thumb off to the side, leaving a thin round of curved pasta. Then turn the pasta inside out by inserting a thumb in the bottom side of the piece and pulling the edges down. Repeat with rest of the pasta.
    — Let the pasta dry uncovered for about 1 hour on a well floured surface.
    — Cook the pasta in well salted, and just barely boiling (not a heavy boil) water for about 5-7 minutes.

    *Tip: use an unfinished wooden surface instead of a smooth surface with flour for best results. The porous wooden board gives some friction that will allow your dough to catch a bit which will make it easier to roll out.