I’ve probably said it before, but I sometimes wonder if I have some sort of Italian Heritage way back in my family tree. I absolutely love Italian food and I think that a secret Italian ancestor is probably the most reasonable explanation. Surely it couldn’t just be because of all of the delicious cheeses, cured meats and carbs…. Either way, I’m always game to try out new Italian recipes at home and recently I added to my pasta repitore by trying my hand at cavatelli.
I’ve been to a few different restaurants over the past year that have served a delicious pasta called cavatelli. Cavatelli are a more unique pasta in both shape and texture. They are made from an eggless semolina dough and rolled into thick shells, resulting in a unique and delicious chewy texture. When making cavatelli a cavatelli board is usually used to achieve the unique ridged texture, however as I don’t currently own one my cavatelli had a more “rustic” look.
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of semolina flour
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Pulse together both flours and the salt in a food processor.
- Slowly add in the water and olive oil, until incorporated. At this point the dough will look mealy.
- Take the dough out of the food processor and begin kneading together until smooth. Once kneaded properly, the dough should bounce back when gently pressed.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least half an hour.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at a time at time, leaving the other pieces wrapped as you do so.
- Roll the dough into a long log, about 1/3 inch thick. Using a bench scraper, cut the rope into 1/3 inch pieces. Then, using the tips of your fingers or thumb, firmly press each piece of down away from you, so it lengthens and curls. This is the step that creates the signature cavatelli shape.
- Sprinkle each piece with a little more semolina flour and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
- The cavatelli can be stored covered in your fridge for about 4 hours.
Cavatelli is a really delicious pasta that’s texture almost reminds me of a dumpling. As such, it really lends itself to a nice, robust sauce. You’ll often see cavatelli paired with swiss chard or spinach, so I decided to stay in that vein and make a sauce using a beautiful red chard and some spicy Italian sausage.
Homemade Cavatelli with Red Chard and Sausage
- 4 links of spicy Italian sausage
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 bundle of red chard, chopped with the thickest part of the stem removed
- 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- parmigiano reggiano
- Crumble the Italian sausage in a large frying pan. Add in the chopped onion. Cook on medium heat until the sausage is cooked through.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for about a minute. Pour in a good splash of white wine and cook until the wine is reduced. While the wine is reducing, get a large pot of salted water boiling to cook your cavatelli.
- Add in the chopped red chard to the sausage mixture and cover with a lid, allowing the chard to wilt.
- While the chard is wilting, add your cavatelli to the boiling water and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Once cooked, add the cavatelli directly to the sausage mixture. Add in the cream, 1/2 cup of the pasta water and stir together over high heat.
- Continually stir until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Finish with generous grating of parmigiano reggiano.
This pasta was absolutely delicious and rivalled some of the cavatelli dishes I have tried at Italian restaurants. I really love the unique texture of cavatelli and I think it makes such an excellent vessel for a lot of different, delicious sauces. The cavatelli really isn’t too difficult to make at home either; it obviously takes more effort than just buying it from a store, but as with all fresh pastas there is something extra satisfying (and impressive) about making the pasta from scratch. My next step is just getting my hands on a cavatelli board to really take my cavatelli to the next level.