Legendary Dishes | Orecchiette alla Materana (Matera pasta bake)


Traditionally made with fresh orecchiette, this pasta bake utilises fresh ingredients to produce a dish that is among the most sublime of Apulian cuisine. Fresh tomatoes are preferred, small cherry tomatoes in particular. Butter can replace oil for the frying medium.

  • 600 g tomatoes, peeled, crushed / 500 g passata
  • 500 g lamb meat, minced
  • 500 g orecchiette
  • 300 g mozzarella cheese / scamorza cheese (or half and half), cut into thick chunks
  • 200 g onions, thin sliced
  • 150 g pecorino cheese, fine grated
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml dry white wine
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt

Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan, add the onions, flash fry for five minutes, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat, add lamb meat, cook until the juices are released.

Increase heat, deglaze with the wine, reduce for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes (or passata with a few tablespoons of water), stir into the meat and onions, season. Cover and cook for an hour over a low heat.

With about 20 minutes to go (until the meat sauce is ready), cook the pasta al dente, drain.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Place a layer of the meat sauce in an oven-proof dish, follow with a layer of pasta and on top a sprinkling of grated cheese and some of cheese chunks.

Repeat until the sauce, pasta and cheese is used up.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the surface is golden-brown in places.

Serve as a main dish, for lunch or dinner.