Cavatelli are one of the easiest and most versatile homemade pastas you’ll ever come across.
This is an eggless pasta which uses just two ingredients and can be made in not much more than an hour plus you won’t need any special equipment. That means no pasta machine or fancy cutters, just simple kitchen supplies and YOUR hands!
Why you’ll love this recipe
Cavatelli are a short pasta that looks a little bit like a shells. Each piece of pasta has a hollow which perfectly captures the sauce for optimum flavor.
This homemade pasta is typical of many regions of southern Italy where eggless pasta is the norm. Originally from Molise and Puglia, you’ll now find cavatelli on the menu in Calabria, Campania, Sicily, Abruzzo and Basilicata.
There are so many reasons to love this cavatelli pasta recipe. Firstly, if you have never made fresh pasta then this is the one for you because it is so easy. Plus you won’t need any special equipment.
The best thing is that this homemade cavatelli pasta is so versatile. While often served with sausage and broccoli or broccoli rabe, it is also wonderful with ragu, seafood, tomato, pesto or even a fresh asparagus sauce. Make a batch today and see for yourself!
With just two ingredients in this pasta recipe (if you don’t count the salt), you’ll find you always have what you need on hand.
Being an eggless pasta, of course, means all that is needed is flour and water. Semolina flour is interchangeable with all purpose, 00 flour or even bread flour. In fact, a combination of semolina flour with either of the other flours also produces excellent results.
- Make a well in the flour, add salt and gradually mix in warm water
- Knead until smooth and supple
- Allow to rest
- Roll out a portion of the dough into a long rope
- Cut the rope into short lengths
- Using two fingers, press and roll each piece of dough making an indentation. This creates a curl in the pasta and makes it longer.
You can also roll pieces of pasta against the tines of a fork, pressing and curling the dough as you roll. Or alternatively, you may have a cavatelli board or gnocchi board which can be used instead.
Making the dough for cavatelli pasta is just like any other pasta dough just the ingredients will vary. So once you’ve tried this pasta you might like to move on to other shapes like busiate or pasta with eggs such has garganelli.
Tips for success and FAQ’s
This pasta is not like egg pasta which is silky and cooks quickly. Eggless pasta has more chew and can take longer to cook than you think particularly because this shape is rather thick. Check doneness by tasting.
Keep in mind that being handmade, this pasta will be uneven and rustic. The beauty of this pasta is that it isn’t all perfect and uniform like the commercially produced variety.
Gnocchi are made from a dough that uses potatoes or ricotta and flour and not really pasta at all. Cavatelli instead are a semolina/flour and water pasta. The thing that is the same is how that are shaped and this means they are sometimes confused.
This is because it is not rested enough or it has been worked again after resting. If this is happening, set that piece aside and start rolling a fresh piece of dough. In the meantime the first piece of dough will rest and relax and be easier to roll when you go back to it.
It is best to cook this pasta immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.
Yes, place the tray of pasta in the freezer. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and use within 6 months. Cook from frozen. Frozen cavatelli pasta will take longer to cook.
Yes, you can double or triple this recipe. However, you will need to allow extra time to shape the pasta by hand.
Cavatelli are wonderful served with many different sauces as suggested earlier. For mopping up the sauce you’ll want some bread and this made from scratch Garlic bread is just the thing. To round off the meal, why not have a couple of salads on the side like Pumpkin and Spinach salad or a Green Bean salad?
More homemade pasta recipes
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- 2 cups (340g) finely ground semolina (semolina flour)
- ¾ cup warm water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Place the semolina flour on a work surface, make a well in the middle and sprinkle with salt.
- Add most of water into the well in the centre of the flour.
- Start combining water with the flour using your fingers or a fork. Pulling in the flour and forming a dough. Add more water if needed. The dough should feel soft and supple, a bit like playdough.
- Knead well for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic then form into a ball.
- Wrap with plastic and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
- After 30 minutes, cut off ¼ of the dough. Rewrap the remaining dough.
- Roll the cut off portion of dough into a sausage shape. You shouldn't need any extra semolina/flour but if you do, use it sparingly.
- Continue rolling until you have a long rope about ½ inch ( or approx 1cm) in diameter. It may be easier to cut it in half and keep rolling to achieve this thickness.
- Cut the rope into ¾-1 inch (2-2.5cm) lengths.
- Using two fingers (the index and the middle finger), press firmly onto each piece of dough and drag towards you creating a curl and an indentation.
- Place in a single layer and not touching on parchment (baking) paper that has been dusted with semolina/flour.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes. This will depend on the size of the cavatelli. Taste after 5 minutes and cook longer if needed. Cooking may be even longer than 10 minutes if you have made larger cavatelli.
- Serve with your favorite sauce.