March 2, 2011

Cavatelli! Your New Favorite Pasta!

Have you ever eaten at Fred's at Barney's in New York? It must have been about 7 or 8 years ago- they had this dish on their menu, cavatelli with a meat sauce and it was just amazing. That was my first experience with cavatelli. I remember thinking they were so cute because they looked kind of like grubs! But sooo delicious! I recently purchased a cavatelli maker- the first night I made cavatelli I think I told my husband that our new cavatelli maker was the best thing in our kitchen. This is the second time I've made cavatelli this week- this variation would be a wonderful dish paired with a salad for lunch, or, for dinner, use this as the starch and pair it with a grilled steak and a green salad. Hooray cavatelli! These cavatelli are exceptionally special because the pasta itself contains sweet potatoes and ricotta cheese. What could be better?!

Cavatelli with Sweet Potato and Ricotta
1 cup sweet potato puree (from a can or homemade, I used canned)
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk)
1 egg (room temperature)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose), plus more for forming the cavatelli

In a standing mixer, combine all the ingredients at a low speed. When a clumpy dough forms, remove from the mixer's bowl and knead on a floured cutting board, adding more flour as needed. What I'd recommend is starting with 4 cups of flour in the mixer and gradually adding more to achieve a non-sticky consistency. Knead for a few minutes by hand- you want it to be a smooth and elastic dough, not one that comes apart from pressure. Kneading will actually help this process along- because of how gluten forms.

Break out your fantabulous and incredibly cool cavatelli maker- secure it to your counter, making sure the area beneath it is clean. I place a lightly floured baking sheet beneath to catch the pasta as it comes out of the machine. This makes A LOT of pasta. About half of the pasta dough once it's made into cavatelli covers an entire full sized baking sheet. So this is about two full baking sheet's worth of pasta. That will feed probably 8-10 people. Take roughly a handful of dough, and start working it into a strip that you'll feed through the machine. There needs to be enough flour incorporated that the inside of the dough isn't sticky, if it's too sticky, the individual pasta pieces won't separate and you have kind of a mess and no usable pieces. Basically, the name of the game here is enough flour and a thin enough piece of pasta to feed through the machine. The strip of pasta should be less than 1" wide and really not very thick at all.

Take a look at the video to show you what I mean:

video

So now you've seen that, you are good to go! These are so awesome to make. As they come out of the pasta maker, dust with flour to ensure they won't stick together.

How I used these tonight- I served them in a sage, butter and parmesan sauce and topped it with a small amount of truffle oil. We ate this with pieces of NY strip steak that had been grilled on the Big Green Egg. Delicious :) What if you need to make these ahead of time? As they come out of the cavatelli maker, dust with enough flour that the individual cavatelli do not stick together. Freeze them if you don't plan to use them right away! Then you can be super cool and take them out of the freezer and say casually, 'so, I have this homemade pasta, we could eat that tonight?'

Cavatelli with Sage, Butter and Parmesan
10 oz. cavatelli with sweet potato and ricotta
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
15 sage leaves (whole, stems removed)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/4 tsp. truffle oil

Boil the cavatelli in salted water for 3-4 minutes. While the cavatelli are boiling, melt the butter over medium heat, adding the sage leaves once the butter has melted. Continue heating until a small amount of brown begins to show up in the bottom of the pan. Immediately add the (cooked) cavatelli and the parmesan, turn off the heat and stir to combine. Place in 4 serving dishes and top with equal amounts of the 1/4 tsp. of truffle oil. This is somewhat rich, so the servings are not too big :) Hooray for cavatelli!
Where can you get a cavatelli maker? I ordered mine from Amazon, this is the one I have:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DD7M9

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