Happy World Pasta Day! Ok, I’m a day early, but let’s say I’m celebrating all week! The cold weather has me craving some comfort food, and for Italians, that pretty much always starts with pasta.
In honour of World Pasta Day on October 25th, I’m trying a new pasta I’ve never made before: semolina cavatelli. I also whipped up a new pesto that I’ve fallen in love with. The result? Homemade cavatelli with roasted tomato pesto.
I’m still working on getting pasta perfect every time, so making a new dough was a challenge for me. In my first attempt at cavatelli the dough was way too soft and the pasta just smushed out of the machine. It was a mess. Now, I’ve figured it out and the key is to keep it simple and, for cavatelli, make it a harder dough. Many thanks to Aurora Importing for the lovely cavatelli maker I won from them in a contest earlier this year. Apparently you can make cavatelli by hand, but the machine sure did speed up the process. So did making the dough in the food processor. I know it’s not traditional, but dinner was ready in an hour and it was all homemade. Plus, the dough worked out great and the cavatelli were delicious!
Homemade Cavatelli with Roasted Tomato Pesto
1 pound durum wheat semolina flour (preferably fine grain)
1 cup very cold water
Roasted tomato pesto
1 cup roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated parmigiana cheese
1 tablespoon dried Italian oregano
4 tablespoons olive oil
Sift the semolina flour into a food processor. Whiz a couple of times to process air into the flour. Turn on processor and slowly pour water into the flour. Stop the processor when the dough begins to gather on the blades. If after using up the cup of water, you still find the dough too dry, use another 1/4 cup of water until the dough collects correctly.
Turn out the dough onto a well floured board and kneed for two minutes until the dough gets a smooth texture. Split the dough in half and create two discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to one day).
While the dough rests, you can make the roasted tomato or sundried tomato pesto. I used tomatoes that I had put in the oven for 24 hours at 170 degrees Celsius with salt, slice garlic and olive oil. You can also use purchased sundried tomatoes and add garlic and salt to your taste to the recipe.
Blend the tomatoes, pine nuts, cheese, oregano and olive oil in a processor. Add additional oil until it is a smooth consistency.
Once the dough has rested, remove the dough from the plastic wrap and flour it generously. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Cut the dough into one inch rows.
With the dough well floured, feed the dough through the wooden rollers on the cavatelli machine. Turn the handle and guide the dough through the machine to create the cavatelli. They can be dropped onto to a well-floured plate or tray.
The cavatelli are ready to cook immediately or can be frozen for use later.
To prepare immediately, toss the cavatelli lightly in a colander to remove any excess flour. Cook in salted, boiling water for approximately 5 minutes, until al dente. Strain and return to the pot. Toss the pasta with the roasted tomato pesto. Serve right away, topped with additional parmigiana as desired.