This is one of the easiest pasta dough's to make and it doesn't need a machine or any fancy equipment - just your thumb or a pairing knife. Cavatelli pasta (or little caves) is traditionally from Molise & parts of Puglia. It is very similar to orecchietti (little ears), another pasta made with semolina (ground durum wheat or grano duro). In southern Italy is where you will find most of these types of pasta made with semolina and no egg in the dough.
The recipe for cavatelli varies greatly from region to region, village to village. Below is the recipe that has yielded the most consistent results for us - a soft delicate pasta that's not gummy. After all your work in making fresh pasta you'll be happy to know that it freezes wonderfully! Now on a random Wednesday night just pull out your homemade fresh cavatelli, make a quick sauce and dinner is ready!
This pasta pairs perfectly in the Spring with peas, borlotti, sage & tomatoes in the Fall and norcina (sausage & cream) in the Winter!
You can find videos on youtube all day on the technique for cutting & forming the pasta. Below is a simple explanation. Stay tuned as we'll film our own demo soon!!
Cavatelli Pasta Dough
200 grams/ 1.5 cups of semolina or ground durum wheat/ grano duro
25 grams / 1/4 cup of regular flour or soft wheat flour
pinch of salt
125 grams or 3/4 cup warm water
In a bowl mix the salt & both flours together, add in warm water and mix with a fork. Dump onto a board and begin kneading. Adjust the consistency as needed. The dough should have a firmness to it, not mushy, however not as hard as a ball. Continue kneading, until you have a nice smooth springy dough (8-10 minutes by hand). Wrap it in plastic and allow to rest at least an hour.
Make a snake about the width of a pencil.
Cut into segments as long as your thumb is wide. …..
Now you can either use your thumb or a knife for this next step.
To begin shaping cavatelli, stick your right thumb up and then turn hand so thumb is pointing left. Maintaining even pressure, use thumb to push a piece of dough forward and up, like an airplane taking off. The dough should spring up and form around the curve of your thumb.
Use a bench scraper or knife to transfer cavatelli to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and sprinkled with semolina, making sure no pieces of pasta touch. Continue until all dough is used. Let pasta dry slightly, 30-45 minutes. (You can then freeze in a single layer. Once frozen place in plastic freezer bag and will keep about a month.)
In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil and drop in cavatelli. Boil the pasta. It should take about 4-6 min depending on the size of your cavatelli. Just keep taking one out and testing! Serve with the sauce of your choice.