Literally translated Orecchiette means "little ears". This little pasta does resemble a tiny ear. You will find orecchiette in two sizes. The larger is about the size of a thumbnail about 1/2 to 3/4" wide(shown).
Use the larger size with simple tomato-based sauces or even a pasta salad. The small orecchiette (not commonly found in the U.S.) works well in soups and can be substituted for, or with orzo. The larger size is the most common size found outside of Italian specialty stores in the U.S.