A few weeks ago after a nice day of golfing Jason and I stopped into Ianiro’s Italian store on Mayfield Road in Munson. We were just going to grab a few beverages and some sandwiches, but something caught my eye in their freezer case, homemade cavatelli. See my old lady (she would kill me if she knew I called her that) just loves cavatelli and usually the only time she gets homemade cavatelli is when we go down to Little Italy. Plus, she’s been stressed out lately over the wedding planning, so I thought I’d be a sweetheart and get them for her. To my surprise for maybe a 1/4 of a pound they were $3.99! When it comes to food, I’m not a cheap bastard, but $16 a pound for flour and water is a bit excessive. I ended up buying the damn things anyway with a commitment to learn how to make them from scratch. And that’s where we are today.
Before I get into things there are a few things I want to mention about making cavatelli from scratch. First and foremost, it is labor intensive and time consuming work, so if you are bothered by that you should probably stop reading now and start saving so you can buy fresh cavatelli. Second, I looked everywhere online for a step by step guide on how to actually make the cavatelli, but most were pretty poor and graphically challenged. This how-to is going to have a lot of pictures, but it is in order to help you to see how to exactly make these right. Finally, make this a family event and include your kids. Its processes like making cavatelli that are slowing becoming memories of the past.
16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 Pinch of Salt
3 Cups (1 pound) All Purpose Flour
1.Pour 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Drop the 2 eggs and the ricotta cheese into the well.
3. Using a circular motion, slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs and cheese.
4. Once all of the flour has been combined with the eggs and cheese, knead the dough together until a soft, but not sticky dough is formed. It can depend on the day, but if the dough still remains sticky add more flour.
5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least a half an hour.
How to Make Cavatelli
1. Take your ball of dough and divide it into quarters.
2. Working with one quarter at a time, lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide it into quarters again.
3. Take a piece of the divided dough (now and 1/8 of the original amount) and roll it into a long tube 1/4 inch in diameter. Although this picture shows me rolling the dough on the board, I actually found that it was a lot easier to work into a tube while holding it in the air and spinning it back and forth between my palms.
4. Divide the tube into pieces 1 inch long with either a pastry cutter or a knife.
5. Now this is the fun part. Using the edge of a butter knife or pastry cutter, with the device at a 45 degree angle, press on each piece of dough and pull across the length of it. You find that the motion causes the dough to curl up the edge of the impliment. This process is definately easier to understand with the pictures below. If you don’t get it at first, don’t be discouraged. Just keep working with it using different amounts of pressure on the dough and eventually you’ll get into the grove.
6. When you are done with each cavatelli, have a lightly floured pan near by so you can toss them in and move on to the next.
Storing Your Cavatelli
You have two options when storing your cavatelli refrigerator or freezer. If you plan on storing your cavatelli in the fridge, you want to make sure you let them dry a bit on the counter, at least an hour. Once you’re sure they won’t stick together any longer, pack them into a Ziploc bag and stick them in the fridge. Make sure you use them within a week or two.
The best option for storing your cavatelli is by far the freezer. Once you are done with your cavatelli making, place your pan into the freezer for a half an hour. That should be long enough to allow the cavatelli to tighten up a bit and they should no longer stick together. Place the chilled cavatelli in a Ziploc freezer bag and store them in your freezer for up to a year.
Cooking Your Cavatelli
If you are like us you won’t be able to wait to try your cavatelli, so you’ll be cooking them fresh. They should only take a few minutes to cook in a pot of salted water on a rapid boil. You’ll know when they are done because they will float. Always make sure to taste one before you take it off the heat though.
Frozen cavatelli will take just a bit longer to cook, maybe 5 – 7 minutes, but again, you’ll know when they are done because they will float to the top.
For those of you that enjoyed this post, 101 Cookbooks has a nice how to on making gnocchi like an Italian grandmother.
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