Today I was watching Food Network and saw this, and for whatever reason I just really wanted to eat it. I also haven’t cooked all that much lately (except for some 2 ingredient pancakes earlier this week), and I thought trying to make pasta for the first time would be a good lazy Sunday activity. I don’t have one of those little pasta rolling machines, so I made this Cavatelli stuff because you can roll it by hand. It was definitely labor intensive, and I’m not good at anything that requires fine motor skills, so the pasta wasn’t exactly the prettiest thing in the world. I’m not quite sure I agree with my mom’s assessment that they looked like “crawly little meal worms or something,” but I doubt you’ll see pasta like this in a Scott Conant restaurant any time soon, either.
Anyway, if you have time, making your own pasta is definitely worth a try. It’s really not that hard, and you can make the pasta any shape you want. This stuff is made with ricotta, so it was really tender and light – totally different than what you get out of the box at the store. And if you don’t want to spend the time on it, just use your favorite store-bought pasta and make this stuff anyway. Sausage and broccoli rabe is an awesome combo, and the dish would take you 30 minutes at maximum.
2 1/2 cups flour
8 oz. whole milk ricotta
2 links hot Italian sausage
1/2 lb. broccoli rabe
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
Parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Put 1 1/2 cups flour in a bowl, and make a well in the center. Add egg and ricotta, stirring with your fingers to break up the yolk and combine it with the cheese, and stirring slowly outward to incorporate flour.
- Work the dough to incorporate all the flour in the bowl; it will probably be sticky, so add flour bit by bit until the dough just stops sticking. Try not to over do it on the flour.
- As the dough comes together, you’ll be able to dump it onto the counter and knead it. You can keep adding flour as it might start sticking to you during kneading. When the dough is smooth and uniform and not sticky, form it into a round and flip your bowl upside down to cover it. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into quarters or eighths, and roll each piece into a rope about a half inch wide. Cut the rope every half inch to make little squares of pasta dough. To make a Cavatelli shape, press the dough down on the counter with your first two fingers, then drag your fingers towards yourself. Ideally, this will simultaneously flatten the dough out and roll it into a roughly tubular shape. That’s not how it worked for me, so I started using the same motion with a fork and got a much more uniform shape (although I don’t think it looks all that much like real cavatelli).
- As you complete each piece of pasta, put it on a baking sheet. When you’ve finished making all the pasta, let it dry for a couple of hours.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water with a touch of olive oil. It will cook very quickly, and you’ll know the pasta is done when it floats to the top of the pot.
For everything else:
- Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Remove sausage from casing and break it up in the pan while browning.
- While your sausage cooks, dice half an onion and remove the largest stems from the broccoli rabe, then roughly chop it. When sausage is browned, after 5-10 minutes, add onions and broccoli rabe to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste, then saute until the greens are wilted, another 10 minutes or so. While the vegetables are cooking, mince garlic and add to the pan.
- To serve, arrange pasta on a plate and top with sauteed meat and vegetables. Use a fine grater or microplane to finish with parmesan or pecorino cheese.