Homemade pasta… It’s one of those things I’ve always fantasized about becoming a connoisseur of, ever since I was a little girl and would sit in my Italian Grandma’s kitchen while she would roll dough through the pasta maker, and my job would be to lay the clumps of ricotta out evenly, and then fold the flat dough across to make ravioli, and use the pasta cutter to add that wonderful rippled edge. Those were the bestravioli that only Villa di Roma has been able to recreate for me. So I guess it’s no surprise that when I stumbled upon a vintage cavatelli maker at that random vintage shop on the corner of Tasker and Passyunk underneath the rug/carpet shop, I had to buy it. 10 bucks? Perfecto! The fact that it had a sticker from an old restaurant in the Italian Market on it? Even better.
Now, I bought this a good few months ago, and have been daydreaming about trying it. But I had also been stalling: I can’t have anyone over for dinner the first time I make it, because what if it doesn’t turn out right? How do I know what recipe to use? Do I have to use unbleached flour, like all the recipes are telling me? What if I don’t feel like using 6 eggs? What if it actually doesn’t work, and I get stuck with a load of dough? Etc. Etc.
Inspired by a pasta lunch I had at Matyson (homemade fettucini with cherry tomatoes and squash blossoms in a corn cream sauce. wow.), I finally worked up the confidence this past Sunday – notoriously known as Pasta Sunday in my family – an Italian tradition to have a big pasta “dinner” as a family every week. And I just happened to have a lb. of fresh ricotta from Claudio and a pound of finely ground semolina flour just begging to be used.
I suppose it’s no surprise that my first batch of homemade cavatelli was born on a Sunday. And, it turned out to be incredibly delicious, and relatively easy compared to what I expected, and man oh man, that cavatelli maker is fun to use and works like a charm!
Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli
(adapted from the Beebo Cavatelli Maker Direction and Recipe Booklet)
4 Cups Semolina Flour (finely ground)
1 lb. Ricotta Cheese (Claudio is the best around!)
1 tsp salt (or a little more)
1/4 Cup Milk
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and add remaining ingredients. Begin to press together and knead with your hands. Removing the dough from the mixing bowl, begin to knead the dough for about 2 minutes on a lightly floured dough board or countertop. This is the toughest part, as the dough should come out perfectly and not need an ounce more of flour. I kneaded one half at a time. You can tell when the dough’s done, because it gets smooth and stretchy. See the difference?
Cut dough in halves, cover with a bowl or a dampened cloth and allow dough to rest for 10 minutes. Allowing the dough to rest will improve its texture. After it’s done resting, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3/8” and cut into strips about 1/2” to 3/4” wide. Then feed slowly into the machine, and let it work its magic!
Then, using a big pot, add fresh cavatelli to boiling water to cook for about 5 minutes, or until they all float to the surface and are perfectly al dente. You can also freeze the extras, and those just take a little bit longer to cook. Remember my lecture about al dente pasta? I won’t repeat… I’ll trust you remember.
The pasta really was so good that I started munching on it alone, but when my eyes caught those super sweet orange cherry tomatoes glistening in the sunlight and I caught a whiff of the wild garlic I just bought from the Farmstand, oh boy, that was it! Sauce from a jar just wouldn’t do the pasta justice.
I halved some of those cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped some fresh garlic, and picked a bunch of marjoram from our plant outside. Heated some olive oil, blistered those tomatoes, and added the garlic and marjoram in at the last minute. Mixed that in with the pasta, sprinkled it with some good ole s&p, and some parmeggiano, and mangia, mangia, mangia!!!!
Oh wait, you don’t have a cavatelli maker? Is that what I hear? Well, you’re in luck, because one of your friends has one that works really well. And it comes with expert advice! SO… If anybody would like to borrow it, just holla atcho girl.If I’m not busy crankin away to feed my pasta addiction, you’re more than welcome to try it out! Just let me know!!! Seriously. You’ll be glad you did.
So, there’s no cava in this post, other than, once you make this dish successfully, the only thing that could make it more heavenly is a glass of cava! So, go grab that sparkling wine- Salud!!!
Talutto - I love you, but now I don’t have to spend $5/lb on fresh pasta!