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Homemade cavatelli pasta recipe

Homemade cavatelli pasta recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Homemade pasta

Cavatelli is a typical Southern Italian pasta made out of just durum wheat semolina flour and water. Make sure to use a very fine semolina (called durum or semola rimacinata) or the dough will be too stiff.

10 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 400g durum wheat semolina flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 220ml water or as needed, at room temperature

MethodPrep:1hr ›Extra time:30min › Ready in:1hr30min

  1. Place the flour on a wooden or marble working surface and make a well in the middle.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the water and pour it into the well, a little at the time, mixing it with the flour. Add as much water as needed to make a sticky but compact dough.
  3. Knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, stretching and folding the dough until it becomes elastic but not too soft.
  4. Wrap in cling film and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. If using the cavatelli within a few hours or the following day, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.
  5. Take one piece of dough and wrap the remaining up to prevent drying. On a working surface sprinkled with semolina flour, roll the dough to make a long rope, about 1cm thick.
  6. Cut out little pieces about 1cm long.
  7. With your index and middle finger, press and gently drag the small piece of dough towards you. The two sides will curl inwards, leaving hollow spaces ("cavatelli means little hollows").
  8. Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough. With time, you'll get faster.
  9. Once ready, transfer to a floured surface and sprinkle with more semolina flour. Do not overlap or they will stick.
  10. Let dry for bout 30 minutes before cooking. If not using the cavatelli right away, let stand at room temperature for 24 hours and then transfer to a paper bag. Check from time to time to make sure no mould develops, and use within a week.

Cooking time

Cooking time will depend on dryness. If the cavatelli are freshly made, it will take about 5 minutes. If they are a few days old, cooking takes about 8 to 10 minutes. In any case, as always when cooking pasta, the best way to check is to taste.


If you cannot find the durum or semolina "rimacinata", mix regular semolina with plain white flour, about 50% to 50%.


Homemade cavatelli pasta

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Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli Made Easy!

A few weeks ago my girlfriend let me borrow her cavatelli pasta maker it was the first time I ever used a machine, all I can say is wow, what a great invention! She has a brand that no longer exists but if you check on Amazon there are many well made brands that our very reasonably priced, just remember to get one that has the wooden rollers.

If you’re crazy about cavatelli, those shell-like ridged noodles that capture and hold the flavor of a sauce so well, then have no fear you can have these made, cooked and on your table in no time at all.

I was amazed at just how easy the process was, you simply feed a strip of pasta dough into the machine and turn the handle, the machine does the rest. The rollers send the dough past a drum set with two tiny blades which cut the dough into small pieces and presses them against the drum’s ridged lining. As quick as you can turn the handle is as fast as they come popping out, you’ll have trays of them done before you know it!

If you want to freeze some, leave them individually on the tray as shown above placing the whole tray in the freezer, when completely frozen you can then bag them up, mine took about a half hour to 40 minutes to freeze.

The ricotta dough is my favorite they turn out so light tasting, you won’t get that heavy doughy feeling at all I promise. They also cook up really fast, just place them into salted boiling water and when they rise to the top, which only takes a few seconds, they’re pretty much done and you can start scooping them out.

Whatever sauce you choose you can be sure that those deep ridges will catch it all!

A simple sauce made of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and some of the pasta water was the perfect combination for the fresh cavatelli with shrimp and broccoli.

Tossing them into a light marinara sauce is my personal favorite, even my 14 month old granddaughter loved them, I cut them into thirds for her and she gobbled them up.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced and quartered pepperoni
  • 16 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup rotini pasta
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine green pepper, onion, pepperoni, mushrooms, tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, and garlic. Cover, and simmer for one hour.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix together pasta, ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, and Parmesan. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, alternate pasta and cheese mixture and sauce mixture, ending with sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Quite often, people mistake cavatelli for gnocchi because they sort of look the same. But actually, gnocchi are typically bigger and not hollow.

Due to the common mistake, some people actually call this pasta gnocchetti [ nyo-ke-ti ]. Aside from that, there are many versions of cavatelli all over Southern Italy.

As a result, they are called various names. Some of the most interesting ones are the parmarieddo [ par-mar-ye-doh ] in Campania, orecchie di prete [ o-re-kyi-di-pre-teh ] in Abruzzo, and pizzicarieddi [ pit-zi-car-ye-di ] in Apulia.

In Sardinia, pasta that are shaped like cavatelli, only it is flavoured with saffron, are called malloreddus [ ma-lo-reh-dus ] or gnocchetti sardi [ nyo-ke-ti-sar-di ].

It is estimated that cavatelli has around forty different names all in all in Southern Italy alone. However, they are mainly names locals use within the 7 regions.

So, have you seen and munched on cavatelli by any other name before?

Homemade Cavatelli

Special Equipment: Pastry scraper (optional)

Ingredients US Metric

  • 2 1/4 pounds (8 cups) “00” flour
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups cold water, or as needed


Place the flour in a mound on a work counter or in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add a pinch of salt, the oil, and 2 cups cold water and mix with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingertips until the mixture forms a firm dough. If necessary, add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together.

Pinch off a small portion of dough and, using your hands, roll it against your work surface into a long rope no more than 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) thick.You want to roll with your hands beginning at the center and working toward the edges to try to keep the rope an even thickness. (If the dough is sticky or difficult to work with, stop rolling. Cover the dough and set it aside at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Then proceed with the rolling.)

Using a pastry scraper or a butter knife, slice the rope crosswise into 1/2- to 3/4-inch (2- to 3-centimeter) portions.

To shape the cavatelli with your thumb, use your thumb to push the dough against the work surface and away from you so that the dough gently curls around itself.

To shape the cavatelli with your fingertips, take the first 2 fingers on your dominant hand and push the dough against the work surface as you draw it toward you so that the dough gently curls around itself.

To shape the cavatelli with a butter knife, roll each length into a little rope. If the dough is still sticky, lightly flour it. Place the back edge of a butter knife right alongside a rope and turn the knife at a 45-degree angle to your work surface. Push the knife and the pasta down and away from you so that the pasta gently curls a little around it.

Spread the cavatelli in a single layer on lightly floured baking sheets or parchment paper, being careful that the cavatelli do not touch. Let dry slightly at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. (To freeze the cavatelli, slide the sheets into the freezer until the pasta is firm. Toss cavatelli into resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months.)

To cook the cavatelli, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Toss in the cavatelli and cook until they float to the surface of the water and remain there, 3 to 8 minutes, depending on the size. (If cooked straight from the freezer, the cavatelli will need an extra 1 to 2 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to a colander to drain before saucing and slurping. Originally published on June 1, 2015.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

I'd never made pasta before, so I was eager to give this homemade cavatelli recipe a shot. The results were delicious. (Note: I had to cut the recipe in half because I realized when I started that I only had a 2-pound bag pasta flour and the recipe calls for 2 1/4 pounds.) My hands-on time was longer than estimated because as a beginner, I had some trouble shaping the cavatelli at first, and my lack of the correct tools slowed me down a bit. I used a total of 1 1/4 cups water, about 1/4 cup at a time. I used my fingers to mix the dough, which was a little messy but seemed to work just fine. I’d describe the process as: Take a small handful of the dough and roll into a rope about 1/2" thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut 3/4" length from the rope and, using gentle pressure, pull the cutter toward you at a 45 degree angle causing the dough to roll up behind the cutter forming a little canoe shape. I placed the shaped cavatelli on a lightly floured pan so that they wouldn't stick. At no point during the cutting and shaping did I find the dough too sticky or need to flour the work surface. This worked pretty well, but my progress was slow, as I found using the flat side of a knife difficult. I tried a metal spatula, and things went much more quickly from that point on. I will definitely be buying a pastry scraper, so that I can make this recipe again with greater ease. Once shaped, my cavatelli were 2 inches long, and I cooked them for 8 minutes.

I can't resist homemade pasta. Also, my spouse is gluten-intolerant, so I make pasta special for her. (On the LC site there is a gluten free flour mix that works well for pasta. This is what I used.) It took almost 2 1/2 cups water to get the dough right so it was not sticky. Being a little old school, I used my God-given mixers—my fingers. I always find it easier to use a really big bowl in case the dam of flour breaks. As far as forming the cavatelli, it is a little time-consuming. After rolling the lengths, a small portion gave me about 10 inches, which I cut to about 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces. It’s going to take some time to experiment with the best way to roll them out. I found it much easier to roll them between the palms of my hands and line them up to curl. Just be sure to dip the back of the knife in a small bowl of flour or some olive oil. It took a little over an hour to make enough for three, and I still had a good amount of dough leftover for another use (pizza, oh yeah). Just place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little flour to keep from sticking together till finished. I cooked the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes. Broccoli was done in a large frying pan and blanched for 5 minutes. I sautéed 2 minced garlic cloves with 1/2 cup olive oil for the sauce, tossed in the pasta and broccoli, and topped with grated cheese. It was delicious—I’ll definitely make this homemade cavatelli again.

I had a great time making hand-shaped pasta for the first time using this homemade cavatelli recipe. I've used a pasta roller and cutter before to make noodles, but never thought I could form my own shapes—I'd assumed that only Italian grannies could do it, and lacking one, I'd never had anyone to teach me. I read and reread the easy-sounding recipe, then watched some online videos and GIFs to visualize the process before I felt ready to try it myself. I used flour labeled "pasta flour" because my grocery didn't have any "00." I gradually added about 2 cups water until I got a firm Play-Doh-like texture. I used a large bowl instead of the counter. I dumped the water in the center, about 1/2 cup at a time at first, and started mixing with a fork, then as the dough came together, with my fingers. I let the dough rest and hydrate for about an hour before beginning to shape it, something I'd seen suggested in other recipes. I think this helped, as it was not at all sticky. I used a large wood cutting board as my work surface and hardly needed any flour to dust the ropes/cut lengths or shaped pasta. I used 3/4" lengths, and as long as the dough ropes were evenly 1/2" thick, had no trouble with the size. The butter knife technique worked well, and my shapes got better and better as I went. I also tried using my fingertips instead of the knife and found that worked too.The dough "rested" wrapped in plastic wrap for 1 hour before I started to make ropes, cut the pasta, and shape it. There's no trick—I swear, it's easy! I liked to do about a walnut-sized portion at a time, making ropes, cutting, then shaping that batch right away. The dough isn't sticky and dries out quickly, so I kept it wrapped as I worked with each portion. It took awhile to shape all the dough, but when I finished, I had enough cavatelli to eat that night and lots to freeze. The cavatelli took about 7 minutes to boil before they started floating and were al dente. Depending on how thin or thick they're rolled, I'll bet the timing varies widely. I'd start testing for doneness at 5 minutes and recommend cooking them for up to 10 minutes, tasting one every minute or so, because everyone is going to shape these a little differently. I'm no Italian granny, but I couldn't be prouder of myself for filling my freezer with these delicious, homey, handmade cavatelli, and I can't wait to try them with some of my favorite sauces. The specific flour brand I used was Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour (2 lbs/908g package). This seemed to work just fine with the other recipe amounts. I wish I'd added more salt, though, as 2 generous pinches wasn't quite enough…but then,, I think I generally don't salt my pasta water enough.

Well, this homemade cavatelli recipe is not for the uninitiated. I've been fantasizing about making homemade cavatelli for a while but hadn't had the nerve until now. The thing is, there is a knack to it, and it took me a while to get there. I bought a 1-kilogram bag of 00 flour (Antimo Caputo brand) at Whole Foods. I ended up using about 2 cups water for my dough. I understand that factors including humidity and the specific flour affect the dough, and I was afraid of adding too much water at the start. I used my hands to mix and produced a stiff dough that really needed to rest for about 30 minutes before it was workable. I ended up cutting the dough in about 8 pieces and rolling each piece into a rope. My first batch was difficult to work with and came out too thick. After resting, the dough was much easier to work with and almost fleshy in texture. The ropes of dough should be no more than 1/2 inch in diameter, probably less. I cut them into 1/4-inch pieces. To form the cavatelli, I found that a bench scraper worked beautifully. You hold the bench scraper over the far end of the disk, and scrape or drag the dough against the board so that it curls over the blade, forming what I've read described as a "canoe." I found pictures to be helpful. The recipe makes quite a lot of cavatelli, and I dried some and froze some to see how it would work. Anyway, it took me well over 90 minutes to finish my cavatelli, putting it out of the realm of a weeknight meal. I suppose I might get faster at it with practice. The pasta only took 3 to 4 minutes to cook. You know it's done when the boiling cavatelli float to the top. The result was quite delicious.

Homemade Cavatelli

Homemade Cavatelli are one of the wonderful homemade pastas so typical of the poorer areas of southern Italy, like Puglia. In the past eggs were scarce, so farmers and home cooks made do with eggless pasta dough. Cavatelli are made with a semolina flour and water rather than with all purpose, or “00" flour that's used for egg pastas. As cavatelli are an eggless pasta they have a slightly denser, chewier texture. They're delicious served with many different sauces and I especially love them with this spicy tomato mussel sauce, a basic tomato sauce, or amatriciana sauce.

Homemade Cavatelli

Ingredients :
400 g semolina flour, plus a bit more for your dusting your work surface.
250 mL of water

Procedure :
To mix the dough:
Place the flour in the center of your work service, preferably a wooden board.
Make a well in the flour and add &frac23 of the water.
Use a fork to blend the flour and water together.
Add additional water as needed until you form a cohesive and supple dough.
Knead the dough until it is smooth, uniform and elastic.
Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for half an hour or more to rest.
To roll out the dough:
Break off a small piece of dough to work with.
I usually work with an apricot-sized piece of dough at a time.
Roll the piece of dough into a long thin rope, about &frac38 inch (1 cm) in diameter.
Use a bench scraper to cut the rope into &frac38 inch (1 cm) inch pieces.
To form the homemade cavatelli:
Place one of the pieces of dough onto your gnocchi board and with two fingers (index and middle fingers) gently drag the piece of dough diagonally across the gnocchi board.
What you end up with is a slightly elongated pasta shape with ridges on one side and concave on the other.
Dust the cavateli generously with additional flour and spread out on a pasta rack or a dish towel.
You can either let the homemade cavatelli dry completely to store for future use or you can cook them fresh with the sauce of your choice.


Homemade cavatelli are eggless, oval-shaped pasta shells with a gap through the middle which is great for capturing the sauce. This pasta, originally from Puglia and Molise is still made by hand all over the region – especially by talented Nonna’s who have been perfecting the shape for years!

INGREDENTS (for 3 people)
300ml/1.26 cups warm water
500g/17.63oz semolina flour

Wooden bench
Rolling pin OR pasta machine
Knife/Pastry cutter

  1. Cavatelli pasta are best made using semolina flour, so start with 500g/17.63oz for a portion of 4.
  2. Pour 500g/17.63oz semolina on a wooden bench, create a well, add water, a little bit at a time and mix into the semolina pinching the sides in, then mixing it through, to create a paste-like consistency.
  3. Repeat this until the semolina pasta dough for your cavatelli has completely absorbed the water.
  4. Start to knead the dough to bring it altogether and help improve the consistency.
  5. When kneading, press using the palm of your hand, toward the front, fold back then repeat this motion.
  6. Add more water if it feels too dry and keep kneading.
  7. If the cavatelli dough feels sticky, add another sprinkle of semolina flour and knead through.
  8. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

How to roll out the homemade cavatelli pasta

  1. After your pasta dough has rested, check that it is soft and smooth then cut a piece and roll it out into a snake-like shape, using one hand to start with and then stretching it out with both.

VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: If your homemade cavatelli dough is a little sticky, sprinkle some semolina on your bench and then stretch the dough out on top of it.

  1. Now, cut this into small pillows, similar to gnocchi, using your knife on an angle.
  2. Using your knife, create the homemade cavatelli by pressing down on each pillow, and rolling it back.
  3. Once it is rolled around the edge of the knife, remove it and it should retain its shape as a cavatelli by closing back in through the middle.
  4. If you have a special board with ridges, you can also roll the homemade cavatelli on this using your finger, but I prefer just a simple knife! These are known as “Cavatelli Rigati”
  5. Even simpler, you can use your finger to press down and roll back each pillow and this will also create the homemade cavatelli shape.
  6. To dry the pasta, place it on top of a cooling rack (or similar), leaving a small gap in between each one.
  7. Dry the pasta for a few hours at room temperature.

VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: Dry the pasta in an area where the sunlight hits your bench during the day.

Boil a large pot of water, add a pinch of sea salt and pasta then cook for 10-20 minutes (cooking time dependent upon the thickness and drying time).

Homemade cavatelli are best served with a vegetable sauce and traditionally paired with Cime di Rapa. You can also use a rich tomato sauce or even my delicious Basil Pesto.

E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate…Enjoy!

You should also check out these Homemade Pasta Recipes:

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Cavatelli with broccoli


4 ½ oz double-ground semolina flour
4 ½ oz flour
11 oz broccoli
½ glass of water
2 anchovies in oil
1 clove garlic
3 oz grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the two flours and create a well in the center of the mound on a pastry board. Pour the water and oil in the middle and work the dough until you have a smooth dough. Form a ball and let rest in a plastic bag for about half an hour.

Then roll out the dough for a rectangle with a height of about 1 cm. Using a knife, cut thick strips and roll each one up until the pasta resembles cylindrical strings. Cut these into pieces about one inch thick. Press each one with your forefinger and middle finger to curl the edges and create an almost concave shape.

Now it's time to cook the broccoli. Clean them first and cut florets into quarters and chop the core into cubes as you boil water on the stove. Once your water comes to a boil, transfer both the broccoli and the fresh cavatelli to cook for about 10 minutes on the stove.

Separately, boil the broccoli cubes and transfer them to a blender with one ladle of cooking water, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to make the broccoli cream.

Meanwhile, sautée the garlic and anchovies in a pan. Once the cavatelli and broccoli are cooked, transfer them to the pan with the garlic and anchovies.

Continue to cook and add the broccoli cream at the end. Stir in pecorino cheese and serve hot.

Homemade Cavatelli

Cavatelli are an eggless noodle made using just two ingredients: water and semolina flour.

Unlike most other pasta shapes, you don’t need any special equipment to make these rustic noodles.

They’re also a great place to start if you’ve never made your own pasta before. The dough is easy to work with, and there is very little experience needed to make beautiful pasta on your first attempt. The video shows a variety of shaping methods that range from using just your fingers, a fork, or a butterboard.

Semolina, made from durum wheat, can be substituted for all purpose flour. However, this flour is different in terms of coarseness, flavor, color, and protein content.

Swapping all purpose flour for semolina will make a pale colored noodle and will lose some of the chew or toothiness that the semolina flour would’ve created. Semolina may sound rather exotic, but you can find it at any grocery store either with the other flours or in the Bob’s Red Mill product section.

Basic pasta dough recipe for cavatelli

There is something we have come to know over the years of making pasta. There are a whole host of different recipes for the pasta dough. For example, the following recipe for Cavatelli, uses a recipe somewhat unique to this particular pasta shape.

Let’s start by letting you know what cavatelli is. Cavatelli are a little like gnocchi in that they are shaped in a similar way.

Some of you may have a cavatelli shaper. We have one that can be attached to the kitchen counter. The pasta dough is prepared and with a turn of a handle, the little cavatelli forms drop out from beneath a pair of rolling wheels. Sounds simple, right?

Well, not really. During the long days of perfecting our pasta making, there were a number of dismal failures. These failures came down to one thing. The dough.

Dough for cavatelli needs to be light since each cavatelli form is quite dense, whether you use a machine, a fork or your fingers. Using only Tipo 00 flour results in a dough that is too soft. Using durum wheat flour results in a dough that is too tough. You may think that by adding egg to the dough will help but that’s not right either!

We spoke to cooks all over Italy who love to whip up a plate of cavatelli during the winter months as it is a great alternative to gnocchi. Following a great deal of research, we can bring you the following recipe for basic cavatelli pasta.

Basic pasta dough recipe for cavatelli

  • 125 grams Tipo 00 flour
  • 125 grams Durum flour
  • 120 grams natural spring water like Zephyrhills
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flours.
  2. Add the water and using a fork, begin to combine.
  3. Add the oil and continue combining until a dough begins to form.
  4. Empty the dough onto a clean and lightly floured work surface.
  5. Knead gently until you have a smooth, soft dough.
  6. Cover with seran wrap and leave at room temperature for up to 10 minutes before forming into cavatelli.

Why does this recipe for pasta dough include olive oil?

The addition of extra virgin olive oil may seem a little strange. However, when making pasta by hand, particular pasta shapes benefit from a tiny drop of olive oil. It helps contribute to a good elasticity and aids the amalgamation of flours to produce a great pasta. You could experiment using some of our infused olive oils to add a little flavor and aroma.

We do not recommend you adding any more olive oil than the recipe calls for or for that matter, adding any olive oil to the cooking water. Too much oil with retard the cooking of the pasta, the result of which will not be pleasant at all!