Cavatelli with Sausage, Mint and Tomato
Coated in a rich, sausage, mint and tomato sauce, this cavatelli dish is another easy pasta recipe to add to your repertoire. Use orecchiette, fusilli or casarecce if you don't have cavatelli.
From the book
|2||cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed|
|4||tablespoons olive oil|
|400g||sausage meat, crumbled|
|400g||ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped|
|A Sprig||of fresh mint|
|450g||fresh (or 400g dried), cavatelli, orecchiette, fusilli, casarecce|
|grated pecorino and red chilli flakes, to serve|
In a capacious pot over a medium-low heat, fry the crushed garlic in the olive oil. Add the crumbled sausage and stir until all pinkness has gone.
Pour in the wine and raise the heat. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes and cook for another 5–10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Finally, add the mint leaves and salt to taste.
Cook and drain the cavatelli, put them into the pot with the sauce and let them simmer for a few minutes, stirring and adding some of the cooking water if needed. Serve, passing round grated pecorino and red chilli flakes for those who want them.
To make your own cavatelli
This is the mothership recipe for a hard durum wheat flour (semola rimacinata in Italian, durum wheat semolina flour in the UK) and water dough, suitable for all the flour and water pasta recipes in my book – cavatelli, lagana, pici, trofie, orecchiette. There are also variations, which I will mention in the relevant chapters, but for now, this is it. The first time you try this, treat it as a game, notice how the coarse semola and water comes together, how dry and scraggy it feels to begin with, then how it softens as you knead. Weather, humidity, the flour, how dry your hands are, all play a huge part in this; the first step is to start to notice. Also identify your work-spot, keeping in mind you need a kneading area (wood is ideal because the surface friction does some of the work) and a spot to spread the shapes once you have made them.
The proportions are 2:1, so for every 100g of durum wheat semolina flour (semola), 50ml of warm water. So to make pasta for 4 you need 400g of semola and 200ml of warm water. Working on wood is best as it creates heat and friction, but you can also work in a bowl, or in a food processor. Working on a board, tip the semola into a wide mountain and add the water bit by bit, pinching it into the flour so it doesn’t run away. Once you have added all the water, bring it into a rough ball, then knead, in the most comfortable way for you (I use the heel of my hand to fold the dough over itself and then push and rotate). Avoid adding extra water until you have kneaded for a while. If it still feels dry or flaky after 2 minutes, a few drops or light spray of water on the board may well be enough. Knead for at least 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and silky – when you hold it against your cheek, it should feel lovely. Rest under an upturned bowl for 30 minutes before shaping according to the recipe.
To shape cavatelli
Cut a thick strip from the ball (and put the rest back under the bowl so it doesn’t dry out). Using the hollow of your hands, roll the strip into a 1cm rope. Cut the rope into 1cm nuggets and then shape on your chosen surface, pressing your thumb or index finger into the nugget and dragging, either away or towards you, so it curls and caves. We should approach making cavatelli as people have for hundreds of years, finding a way to cave a nub of dough. As well as one finger, I have been taught to make cavatelli by dragging the nugget of dough with a rounded knife and ice scraper-like tool; by using two fingers (which makes it look like a canoe); also rolling it away from me over a ridged board, some rough wood, the star side of the grater and the inside of a wicker basket. The aim of all is to create both a cave and a sauce-catching surface. Because at the end of the day, catching the sauce, that is the aim.