Over the holidays, my mother in law introduced me to these o-mazing little pillows of heavenly pasta. Not knowing the ingredients or how cavatelli is made, I naively went to my local Whole Paycheck and bought a box of cavatelli pasta. As talked about in this post, I was slightly miffed when I ended up with actual shells versus the dumpling I thought I was getting.
Turns out a little education goes a long way. I found this post, by "Mark" on EatingCleveland.com and not only learned what actually goes in cavatelli, but how to make it as well. It's kind of like the time I toured the world's largest slaughter house; once you see what goes into making your dinner you feel like you've earned the right to eat it even more. Slaughtered Cow = Fillet Minion. Ricotta + Flour + Eggs = Cavatelli. Both mm-mm good.
Just so you don't make the same mistake I did (or if you have no idea what cavatelli is in the first place): cavatelli is a term used to describe a hot-dog bun shaped pasta, but mostly known for a type of dumpling that makes for a fine substitute for gnocchi. Gnocchi (which is a potato based dumpling) can sit really heavy in your stomach, while cavatelli gives you the same satisfaction without the weight. If what I'm saying makes you go "huh?" then find a bag of cavatelli in your grocer's freezer, make it, then come back here next week. I promise, you won't be sorry you did :-)
Before we begin, I will tell you it is MUCH EASIER to just buy this and make it instead of making it by hand. The dough itself is über easy to assemble, but takes a while to cut into pieces. I actually had to throw out half of the dough because by the time I got baby to bed, snuggled with the hubs, watched American Idol, folded the laundry, wrote on the blog, did some work, bought groceries ... it was like nine days later. Should you see this all the way through, I will applaud you and ask you to freeze a bag and mail me a sample because the bag I froze is still in the freezer. Maybe one day I'll get to eat my own creation.
Good news is, cavatelli freezes beautifully and yours will too! You'll also find, pound-for-pound, making your own is incredibly cheaper than buying at the store. In the recipe below I used whole wheat flour, skim ricotta, and egg whites, but you can use the fully loaded versions - whatever floats your boat.
Have fun making this Italian staple and it's definitely much easier than it sounds. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be rockin' and rollin' you're own cavatelli in no time!
- 2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 16 oz. Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 2 Eggs
- Pinch of Salt
1.) Combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, eggs, and ricotta in a large mixing bowl by folding in the eggs and ricotta into the center of the flour. Once folded in, you can continue to mix by hand or move to a stand-mixer. (much easier IMO).
2.) Knead the dough together until a soft, but not sticky dough is formed. If the dough still remains sticky add more flour. When done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least a half an hour.
3.) Once the dough has rested, Take your ball of dough and divide it into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide it into quarters again. Take a piece of the divided dough (now and 1/8 of the original amount) and roll it into a long tube 1/4 inch in diameter. It's a lot easier to work into a tube while holding it in the air and spinning it back and forth between my palms, instead of rolling on the counter top. (I coiled my tubes up to save space while I was working, but you'll be uncoiling them to cut into pieces in a moment).
5.) Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the tubes into pieces about 1 inch in length.
6.) Holding a butter knife at a 45 degree angle, press on each piece of dough and pull across the length of it. This causes the dough to curl up the edges (like a hot dog bun). It feels kind of funny to do at first and I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, but after a couple you'll definitely get the hang of it. Soon you'll be exclaiming TA-DA after each one!
6.) Keep a lightly floured baking dish nearby so you can toss in your finished cavatelli as you work.
Here's some further instruction from my source for this post including how to store and cook your homemade cavatelli. Thank you Mark for posting and helping this Jew-ess cook like an Italian princess!
Storing Your Cavatelli
You have two options when storing your cavatelli refrigerator or freezer. If you plan on storing your cavatelli in the fridge, you want to make sure you let them dry a bit on the counter, at least an hour. Once you’re sure they won’t stick together any longer, pack them into a Ziploc bag and stick them in the fridge. Make sure you use them within a week or two.
The best option for storing your cavatelli is by far the freezer. Once you are done with your cavatelli making, place your pan into the freezer for a half an hour. That should be long enough to allow the cavatelli to tighten up a bit and they should no longer stick together. Place the chilled cavatelli in a Ziploc freezer bag and store them in your freezer for up to a year.
Cooking Your Cavatelli
If you are like us you won’t be able to wait to try your cavatelli, so you’ll be cooking them fresh. They should only take a few minutes to cook in a pot of salted water on a rapid boil. You’ll know when they are done because they will float. Always make sure to taste one before you take it off the heat though.
Frozen cavatelli will take just a bit longer to cook, maybe 5 – 7 minutes, but again, you’ll know when they are done because they will float to the top.
For those of you that enjoyed this post, 101 Cookbooks has a nice how to on making gnocchi like an Italian grandmother.