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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Cavatelli is a southern Italian pasta made with a lovely eggless semolina pasta dough. The curved shape will remind you of an elongated shell, or even a tiny hot dog bun! It’s formed by hand and this pasta recipe is most often served with tomato sauce with sausage and parmesan cheese or a simple sauce of oil, garlic, and broccoli. You’ll love that the unique shape allows it to scoop up sauce and trap small bits of ingredients, making each bite delightful.
This cavatelli pasta is made from my master Semolina Pasta Recipe. I can’t wait to share with you each variation of it and be sure to check out Busiate (spiral), Gnocchetti (ridged small elongated shell), Trofie (twisted pasta), Foglie (olive leaf), and Orecchiette (small ears).
Table of Contents
- What is Cavatelli Pasta?
- Tools You Need
- Key Ingredients and Why
- How to Make Cavatelli
- Can I Make Cavatelli Pasta in Advance?
- How to Dry Fresh Pasta Correctly at Home
- How Do I Store Cavatelli Pasta?
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Pasta and Focaccia Recipes
What is Cavatelli Pasta?
- Cavatelli is a rolled eggless pasta popular in Southern Italy, specifically in Puglia and Molise, and is believed to be one of the most ancient pasta shapes.
- The name is taken from the Italian verb “cavare” which means to carve out. Fittingly, each piece has a little hollowed area.
- Today cavatelli are usually shaped with a knife, but traditionally they were shaped by hand. The length of cavatelli varied by town, from longer forms shaped by three fingers to miniature varieties.
- Legend has it that a woman would examine her future daughter-in-law’s fingers to make sure they looked a bit worn. This was proof that she spent lots of time making cavatelli!
Tools You Need
Key Ingredients and Why
- Semolina flour
- Semolina flour is made from hard durum wheat, the species of wheat used to make pasta.
- This high gluten, high protein (13%) content gives semolina flour more durability and elasticity. That helps the pasta keep its shape while cooking and gives your pasta that wonderful al dente texture.
- It has a coarse, grainy texture, and is pale yellow in color from the carotenoids, the natural pigment found in durum wheat as well as in carrots and sweet potatoes.
How to Make Cavatelli
- Make the dough from my 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe.
- For this cavatelli recipe, divide the dough into quarters and work with one section at a time. Keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. On a clean work surface, roll the dough into a 1/2-thick rope and cut the rope into ½ inch pieces.
- Take one piece of dough and place a table knife at a 45° angle along the cut edge of the dough. Push the knife into the dough and away from you at the same time so that the dough curls around the blade and resembles a small hot dog bun.
- As soon as you finish a piece, place it on the semolina-dusted baking tray.
- To ensure the pasta keeps its shape while cooking, allow the pasta to completely air-dry for 12-24 hours.
- When ready to serve, cook your pasta in salt water (for flavor and to prevent it from sticking) in a large pot for 6 to 10 minutes.
Can I Make Cavatelli Pasta in Advance?
After the cavatelli is completely air-dried, it can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for eight weeks.
How to Dry Fresh Pasta Correctly at Home
- Drying homemade pasta correctly and thoroughly before storing it away is a very important step: if not done correctly the stored pasta will go moldy.
- Because it will be held at room temperature and not in the fridge, removing all the moisture is key to ensuring the safety and longevity of your pasta.
- Start by tossing the cavatelli with a small amount of semolina to keep the dough from sticking.
- Next, lay the pasta in a single layer on a baking sheet. You will need to let your pasta completely air-dry.
- This can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours or longer, depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen.
- In hot countries, this step can be faster by putting the pasta in the sun, which is what I do.
How to Store Cavatelli Pasta
- Store leftover cooked Cavatelli in the refrigerator for up to three days. Drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking.
- Or allow the dough to dry in a single layer on the baking tray for several hours before transferring to an airtight container to be stored at room temperature for up to 8 weeks.
- Alternatively, freeze raw fresh semolina pasta for up to eight weeks.
Are there other ways to shape cavatelli?
It’s a bit trickier, but you can shape them the traditional way by using your fingers. Use your three middle fingers to make a hollow in each piece of pasta dough, and roll the sides up.
I love ridged pasta-is it ok to give my cavatelli ridges?
Sure! Some areas in Italy make their cavatelli ridged. Press your shaped pasta against a wood gnocchi board, or use the tines of a fork to make ridges.
Can I cook the pasta without drying it first?
The drying ensures that the cavatelli will keep its shape while cooking, and it also might be sticky if you try to boil it without drying it first.
Can I use my food dehydrator to dry my cavatelli?
Homemade cavatelli pasta is generally air-dried, however, you should be able to do it in a single layer in an oven or dehydrator at 135°F for about four hours, checking it at two hours to test it. The timing depends on the thickness of the pasta.
How will I know if my cavatelli is properly cooked?
Cook the pasta until plump and expanded, and the center no longer looks chalky or raw.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- Make the dough from my 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe.
- This dough dries out quite easily so be sure to always keep the dough covered in an airtight container (or in plastic wrap) when you are not working with it.
- Pasta is usually shaped on an un-floured surface but if you find that your dough sticks too much, try using a very tiny amount of flour.
- This pasta must dry completely before cooking for it to retain its shape.
- Even if thoroughly dried, this pasta must be stored in the refrigerator and cooked within two days.
- Store-bought fresh pasta often cooks in a few minutes but this heartier handmade version can take longer. Be sure to cook thoroughly!
- Pair this pasta with Roasted Garlic and Herb Compound Butter, Compound Butter, or Sun-Dried Tomato Compound Butter, you’ll be grand!
More Pasta and Focaccia Recipes
Cavatelli Pasta Recipe
- 1 recipe 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe
- Divide your Semolina Pasta Dough into quarters and work with one portion at a time, leaving the rest covered to keep it from drying out.
- On a clean, un-floured work surface, roll the dough into a rope about ½ inch (1½ cm) thick. Cut the rope into ½ inch (1½ cm) pieces.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, place a table knife at a 45° angle along a cut edge of dough. Push the knife into the dough and away from you at the same time so that the dough curls around the blade and resembles a small hot dog bun.
- Transfer each piece to a baking tray dusted with semolina to let dry as you continue to shape the rest of the dough.
- Allow the dough to dry in a single layer on the baking tray for several hours to dry before cooking or transferring to an airtight container to be stored at room temperature for up to 8 weeks. (See my note above on ‘How to Dry Pasta Correctly at Home’)
- When ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender and fully cooked through, about 6-10 minutes. Cook time depends on thickness and shape so check for doneness before removing from the pot.