Cavatelli pasta are one of the easiest and most versatile homemade pastas you'll ever come across.
This is an eggless pasta recipe 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 Cavatelli 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 pasta on the menu in Calabria, Campania, Sicily, Abruzzo and Basilicata.
There are so many reasons to love this cavatelli 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, my san marzano tomato sauce, 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 makes this cavatelli recipe deliver some excellent results.
Instructions for Homemade Cavatelli
- 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, tagliatelle, garganelli, tonnarelli or ricotta cavatelli.
Tips for success and FAQ's
This cavatelli 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 cavatelli recipe will be uneven and rustic. The beauty of this pasta is that it isn't all perfect and uniform like the commercially produced variety.
Cavatelli pasta is an eggless, slightly chewy pasta made with just semolina (or other flour) and water. This short, hand shaped pasta looks a little bit like shells with a hollow for capturing all the sauce. Actually the name means "little hollows". Another version includes ricotta in the dough. Cavatelli are often served with broccoli and garlic.
Gnocchi are made from a dough that uses potatoes or ricotta and flour and not really pasta at all. Cavatelli pasta 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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Cavatelli Pasta Recipe
- 2 cups (340g) finely ground semolina flour see notes
- 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 semolina flour.
- Start combining water with the semolina 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 approximately 1cm) in diameter. Be sure to roll the rope as thin as this otherwise it will be too thick to cook properly. 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. It's important to press firmly enough to thin the dough and create a curled pasta. This might take a little practice.
- Place in a single layer and not touching on parchment (baking) paper that has been dusted with semolina.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. When boiling, add one heaped tablespoon of salt.
- Add the cavatelli to the salted, boiling water and cook 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 - try San Marzano tomato sauce, Basil Pesto or Authentic Bolognese Ragu. And if you love this, be sure to make my Cavatelli and Broccoli and my delectable Ricotta Cavatelli!
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
Is this really 3 servings? I’m making it for 4, should I double the recipe?
Yes, it is for 3 servings unless you're having it as a starter or you're not very hungry. Also a lot depends on what sauce you are serving with it. If it's a ragu or other meat sauce, this would probably be enough for 4. In any case, you don't have to double the recipe just increase the serving using the up and down arrows beside the servings box to how many serving you want to make and the measurements will adjust. Like all pasta recipes, this cavatelli recipe is easily adjustable and often the amount of water/liquid you need will be dependant on the weather ie drier weather, you need more liquid; humid weather, you need less. Hope that helps.
Can this dough be made the day before?
Yes, you probably could - I never have. It's such a simple dough that it's easy enough to make it as you need it.
Can this freshly made cavatelli be dried?
Yes, you would be able to dry these cavatelli though they may not dry out completely and therefore would need to be frozen to keep fresh.