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Orecchiette Substitute

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It’s no secret that we’re pasta junkies. We enjoy all of the different shapes, colors, and sauces. Orecchiette is without a doubt at the top of my list. Orecchiette, often known as small ears in the pasta business, originates in the southern Italian region of Apulia.

Orecchiette are often created with thin rounds of fresh pasta dough pinched gently with the thumb to make small shellsideals to hold all that wonderful sauce.

The most popular traditional recipe combines Orecchiette with Cime di Rapa (broccoli rabe), a southern Italian vegetable with thin stems and tiny florets that has been boiled before being sautéed with garlic, oil, anchovies, and chili pepper.

Orecchiette is also wonderful when paired with tomato sauce and a dusting of salty ricotta, or when paired with pork chop gravy, broccoli, or lamb.

Continue reading to discover more about Orecchiette pasta, foods to pair it with, and terrific Orecchiette replacements to use in a hurry.

What Is Orecchiette

Orecchiette Substitute

Notably, the boot’s heel is made of orecchiette, a kind of pasta peculiar to Puglia (Apulia), Italy’s southernmost region. The pasta is about the form of little ears. As a result, the word Orecchiette means “little ears.”

Orecchiette is often offered dry, although it tastes best fresh; nonetheless, it must be hand molded and is difficult to manufacture. In Puglia, orecchiette is most typically served with a simple tomato sauce, although it may be paired with a variety of ingredients and works well with thick sauces.

This little, round pasta has a modest dome form and is less than an inch in diameter. The pasta’s core is thinner than the rims, giving it an intriguing, shifting texture: soft in the center and somewhat chewier on the edges.

This kind of pasta is reasonably priced, costing around the same as more prevalent forms. It is often served with broccoli rabe and Italian sausage and topped with Parmesan or an equivalent cheese. It also complements other meat-based sauces and vegetables such as asparagus and peas.

Orecchiette Uses in Recipes

Because of its shape, orecchiette pasta works well with chunkier sauces or vegetable-based recipes. Authentic orecchiette recipes call for sautéed vegetables in olive oil, such as broccoli rabe.

Whether you just eat mac and cheese or will try anything once, orecchiette is a must-try. The form is tasty and lends a bit of refinement to any dish.

Pick up some orecchiette the next time you’re in the pasta aisle at the grocery store and try them in these dishes:

  • Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli
  • One Pan Orecchiette Pasta
  • Orecchiette Pasta with Tomatoes
  • Homemade Orecchiette Pasta from Puglia
  • Sausage Orecchiette Pasta
  • Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
  • Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage
  • Orecchiette with Fennel and Sausage
  • Orecchiette with Carrot-Hazelnut Pesto
  • Orecchiette pasta with Prosciutto
  • Orecchiette with Sausages and Spinach
  • Orecchiette Bolognese
  • Orecchiette with Pea Pesto Sauce
  • Homemade Orecchiette with Semolina
  • Tomato Corn Orecchiette

Orecchiette Substitutes

Learning more about Orecchiette pasta is a lot of fun, particularly with these delightful recipes to go with it. However, if you don’t have any Orecchiette on hand, you’ll need to consider these fantastic Orecchiette replacements.

Farfalle Pasta

Farfalle pasta is a wonderful substitute for orecchiette in your recipes.

This pasta is also known as butterfly pasta and bow-tie pasta. Farfalle pasta is a kind of Italian pasta that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Farfalle refers to little farfalle pasta, and farfalloni refers to bigger farfalle pasta. All of the kinds, however, have a bow-tie form and are composed of oval and rectangular pasta.

This pasta goes great with a variety of sauces, but it matches especially well with tomato and cream sauces. Some farfalle pasta versions are colored with additional colors. It may be prepared using whole wheat flour, although there are also plain versions available.

Farfalle pasta comes in three different colors: tomato, spinach, and beetroot.

Conchiglie Pasta


Conchiglie pasta is a fancy term for seashell and shell pasta, which you’ve probably heard of or tasted before. This pasta comes in both simple and multicolored durum wheat types.

To color the pasta, natural pigments such as spinach extract for green pasta and tomato extract for red pasta are employed. Conchiglie pasta shapes also aid in the sticking of the spaghetti to the sauce.

Conchiglie pasta is a tiny shell pasta that is often seen in meat sauces and pasta salads. It comes in two sizes: conchigliette and conchiglioni, with conchigliette being the smaller and conchiglie being the bigger.

This Italian pasta has a smooth inside and may be ridged on the outside, suggesting that it may be filled with sauce.

Penne Pasta


Penne pasta is a fantastic substitution for Orecchiette in your recipes.

Penne pasta is a popular cylinder-shaped pasta that is extruded. The pasta is sliced on the bias, which gives it a unique form. Penne rigate and penne lisce are two varieties of penne pasta.

The texture of penne rigate is furrowed, while the texture of penne lisce is smooth. Pennoni is a larger-diameter version of penne pasta. Mostaccioli is also a bigger version of penne pasta that comes in both ridged and silky textures.

Penne pasta complements a variety of sauces, including marinara and pesto. If you’re from New Jersey, you’ll recognize penne pasta as pencil points.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Orecchiette and shell pasta the same thing?

Orecchiette, often known as little ears in the pasta business, originates in the southern Italian region of Apulia. Thin rounds of fresh pasta dough are pinched softly with the thumb to produce small shellsideals for cradling all that scrumptious sauce.

Why is orecchiette pasta called little ears?

This concave, spherical pasta is supposed to have originated in Puglia, Italy’s massive boot heel. It gets its name, which means “small ears,” from its shape, which makes it a superb sauce and cheese catcher.

What is orecchiette pasta good for?

Because of its shape, orecchiette pasta works well with chunkier sauces or vegetable-based recipes. Authentic orecchiette recipes call for sautéed vegetables in olive oil, such as broccoli rabe. The form is tasty and lends a bit of refinement to any dish.


Even though orecchiette has a distinctive form, it may be substituted with other varieties of pasta. Because the cup-like shape of Orecchiettes enables sauce and vegetables or meat to nestle within and adhere to the pasta, picking something comparable is ideal.

Consider any of the Orecchiette replacements listed in this article.


What can I use instead of orecchiette?

If you can’t locate orecchiette, use any other shaped pasta, such fusilli, farfalle, or penne.

What pasta shape is like orecchiette?

Fusilli, which are both long and circular, are another nice alternative to orecchiette. They may be produced using a variety of flours, but the most common is durum wheat flour. This spaghetti is very popular with meat or spinach sauces.

Is orecchiette the same as orzo?

Orecchiette are little, circular pasta shapes in the form of an ear. The concave form is ideal for capturing and retaining sauces and other ingredient morsels. While orecchiette is bigger than orzo, it works well in soups, salads, and pan foods.

What is another name for orecchiette pasta?

Variations and names

They are known as recchietedde or chiancaredde in Taranto dialect. Orecchiette are created from durum wheat in Cisternino; they are bigger and take on a distinct form, with deep interior ribs that resemble an ear. They are known as recchie d’ privte, or “priest’s ears.”

What pasta can I use instead of noodles?

6 Healthy Substitutes for Traditional Pasta
“Zoodles” are Zucchini Noodles. Zucchini has a minimal saturated fat, salt, and cholesterol content.
Noodles made with squash.
Pasta with Quinoa.
Pasta made with rice.
Pasta with black beans.
Noodles with Shirataki sauce.

Is shell pasta orecchiette?

Puglia-Style Orecchiette or Shell Pasta – Orecchiette Alla Pugliese, an Italian dish from the Worldwide Gourmet. This recipe originates from the Adriatic Sea area of Puglia in southern Italy. The spaghetti is gently tossed in a delicious oil sauce.

What is the thinnest pasta noodle?

Angel hair (Capelli d’angelo in Italian) is commonly referred to be the world’s thinnest pasta form due to its ultra-thin strands.

What is the rarest pasta shape?

Legends surround Su filindeu pasta. Only a few of ladies from the small Sardinian hamlet of Nuoro have known the secret to crafting this incomprehensibly complicated pasta form for over 300 years. As a result, it is the rarest and most costly pasta on the planet. Su filindeu is typically only eaten twice a year…

Does Barilla make orecchiette?

BARILLA Collezione Orecchiette Pasta, 12 oz. (Pack of 12) – 6 Servings Per Box – Pantry Friendly Artisanal Pasta – Non-GMO, All Natural Ingredients, No Preservatives.

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