Handmade Orecchiette with Asparagus and Roasted Garlic

I hadn't made orecchiette in a long time and I was craving a fresh homemade pasta with spring flavors like asparagus and fresh herbs, so I did what I usually do and jumped on the live stream and made things up as I went along. I made the pasta too big and kinda gummy, and the flavors were just slightly off target, so the day after the stream I made it again and it came out just how I wanted. One key to this dish is a whole clove of roasted garlic mashed up into the sauce. Another is lots of lemon juice and fresh oregano to add a bright freshness to the asparagus and pasta. You can watch the stream here, or keep scrolling for the photos and recipe.
First time really using stuff from my little herb garden. Fresh oregano is my favorite herb to grow at home. The pasta is semolina flour, fresh and dried oregano, and water. Form little balls, then use your thumb to make the shape. Cute little ears. Asparagus in the pan with a small amount of ground beef, lots of butter, and a little bit of berbere spice. Then I added the roasted garlic that is blended up with a splash of milk. Toss in the pasta, finish with some lemon, and serve with parm and more fresh oregano. So good! The pasta has the perfect chewy texture to go with the crisp asparagus and the bright yet deeply flavored sauce brings everything together.

Handmade Orecchiette with Asparagus and Roasted Garlic

  • 1 bulb Garlic
  • 1 cup Semolina Flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon berbere spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 bunch Asparagus cut in half the long way
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • fresh oregano leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut the top off the garlic bulb so every clove has at least a small amount exposed. Drizzle with oil and salt and wrap in foil. Put it into the oven for 45 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven.
  2. Mix the semolina flour with the fresh and dried oregano and salt and stir. Add in the water, starting with half, and add it little by little as you mix until a stiff dough is formed. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the board with more semolina and one by one grab small bits of dough in your palm. Roll the dough into a ball about the size of the tip of your index finger. Roll the dough balls in the semolina flour.
  4. One by one press your finger on each dough ball and drag slightly towards you to form the traditional orecchiette shape. Place on a kitchen towel sprinkled with more semolina flour and continue with all the dough balls.
  5. Once the garlic is cooled Press the garlic out of the bulb and stir in the milk or cream. Blend smooth in a blender or with a hand blender. You could probably just mash it with a fork too if you would rather.
  6. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a few heavy pinches of salt.
  7. Preheat a frying pan with the tablespoon of olive oil and add the beef. Stir to combine and brown. Add in the dried oregano and berbere spice.
  8. Drop the pasta and cook 3-5 minutes until tender.
  9. Add the asparagus and butter to the pan with the beef and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic paste. When the pasta is done, add it directly from the pasta water to the pan with everything else. Stir to combine. Add in about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the lemon juice. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
  10. Serve and top with lots of fresh oregano.