Recipe a day
Two Hundred Years Old Secret Revealed: The Cavatelli History
We’re excited for this week’s haps!! We’re cooking live with celebrity Chef Joe Sasto!! We’re pumped because for this class we’ll be making hand rolled Cavatelli Pasta, his family gravy.
Cavatelli is a type of hand-made, hollow, and short narrow tube-shaped pasta. As you can see, cavatelli is similar to waves, which makes it popular for coastal regions, such as sea shores and islands. But before we get into that, have you wondered where cavatelli pasta originated from? Have you guessed correctly? It was in…spoiler alert, Italy. This twisted hollow shell pasta is an Italian dish that has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest types of pasta in the world. As it differs by shape, size and thickness, people all over the world have tried to devise their own recipe for cavatelli. How did we know? Well, we did a little bit of research.
The name Cavatelli means "little hollows", named after the hollow shape of the elongated pasta shells. Its name differs depending on the area in which it is produced but they are still referred to as the same pasta.
Little to nothing is known about the true history of this Italian pasta. Its name and other pieces of information point to its existence dating back to 1400 B.C. According to several ancient Italian documents including manuscripts, it was first made in the Southern Italian region of Molise—popularized by Frederick II of Swabia during the 13th century as a main dish in their culture, before it spread out to the Puglia. But back then it was made from squash skins. Yes, squash skins!! It was a popular pastime for people in the lower regime and is often considered “a poor man’s food”.
Today this unique pasta is made from semolina flour and salted water. Its surface can be smooth or ribbed depending on whether it is made by hand or with the help of the tines of a fork or with an appropriate machine. Cavatelli were originally served as an accompaniment to meat sauces but have become popular enough on their own so they can be served with just butter and cheese sauce.
What better way to start making your cavatelli pasta from the pasta prowess himself, Chef Joe Sasto. Learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch, so put those pasta machines back to where they belong. Chef Joe Sasto will take you through each step from mixing the flour and water, shaping the pasta dough, forming those homemade meatballs, and cooking his mother’s famous tomato gravy. Yes it’s an all in one package. Chef Sasto loves to share what he’s learned from his years of experience working in some of the world’s best kitchens. So what are you waiting for?? Have you booked the experience? Book them here.
Handmade Cavatelli and Meatballs with Chef Joe Sasto’s Family Gravy
- ¼ pound salami ❄
- ¼ pound mortadella ❄
- 1 whole egg ❄
- 1 pound ground pork ❄
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese ❄
- Meatball seasoning mix
- 1¼ cup semolina flour
- 1¼ cup 00 flour
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ bunch basil ❄
- 1 packet Balinese Truffle Salt
- 1 jar Truffle Carpaccio
- Food processor
- Box cheese grater or microplane
- Cutting board
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 2 Plates
- ¼ cup measure
- Large lidded pot
- Plastic wrap
- Large saute pan
- Large dutch oven (or extra saute pan)
- Small bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Can opener
- Slotted spoon
- Paper towels
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup warm water
Mise En Place
One Hour Before Class
- Remove the outer rind of the mortadella and salami and transfer to a food processor. Grind into a paste-like consistency. Alternatively, this can be done with a knife and a sturdy cutting board. Simply finely chop the meat and use the edge of your knife to press and smear until a very fine paste forms.
- Add the egg and process until combined. Transfer to a bowl, along with ½ pound of the ground pork (freeze or store the remaining pork for another use). Grate in the Parmesan and add the seasoning mix. Use your hands to mix until homogeneous and emulsified.
- Form into small (about marble-sized) meatballs. Continue until you have your desired amount of meatballs, setting aside the formed meatballs on a plate (any leftover meat freezes well for later). Store in your refrigerator.
- Set aside ¼ cup of semolina flour. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the remaining semolina flour and 00 flour. Slowly pour just under 1 cup of warm water into the mixture, and use your hands to squeeze and combine the water into the flour. Continue pressing and squeezing until a shaggy dough begins to form. Use the remaining warm water to bring the dough together if necessary.
- Form the dough into a rough ball and transfer to your work surface. Knead until soft, smooth, and supple. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest.
How to Cook
- Fill a large pot with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, heat a large dutch oven or saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Peel the garlic. Trim, halve, and peel the onion. Slice into thick half moons.
- Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your dutch oven, reserving about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir constantly until lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the onion and garlic. Discard or reserve for later use.
- Turn the heat to low and add the dried oregano and thyme. Swirl the pan to bloom the herbs and infuse the oil.
- Carefully stir in the tomatoes. Season with kosher salt and sugar to taste.
- Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the cavatelli, dust a sheet tray with the reserved semolina flour. Cut off a small strip of the dough, keeping the remaining dough covered. Lightly press with your hands to roll the strip into a long, thin “snake.” Dust with semolina flour and slice into ¾-1 inch-wide chicklets. Use your thumb to apply gentle pressure in a dragging motion away from you to create a hollow (this can also be done on a gnocchi board for added texture). Continue with the remaining dough, transferring the rolled cavatelli to the baking tray.
- Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil ripples, add the meatballs with plenty of space in between each so as not to overcrowd the pan. Brown in batches, setting aside the finished meatballs on a plate.
- Season the boiling water with kosher salt. Blanch the cavatelli until done, about 4-6 minutes..
- Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and stir in the basil.
- Add the cooked cavatelli to a pan with the meatballs, along with a ladle full of pasta water. Add gravy to taste and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Season with Balinese Truffle Salt.
Plate your pasta and meatballs, garnish with a few slices of Truffle Carpaccio and basil, grate on some fresh Parmesan, and finish with a pinch of Balinese Truffle Salt. Time for the first taste! Congratulate yourself on making something so delicious by hand. Thank you Chef Joe!!!!