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Pasta in the Southern Italian Tradition: Flour & Water, Rolled by Hand

Laurie Boucher

Laurie Boucher

Cavatelli

Cavatelli can be formed using just your hands and fingers. You can make them as short or as long as you want, depending on how long you cut your pasta pieces from your rolled pasta rope.

Preparation

Pour the flour into a bowl or dump on your counter/table.

Create a well in the middle of the flour with your fingers.

Pour 2⁄3 cups of the water in the well, retaining some to add if needed.

With a fork, slowly start incorporating the water with the surrounding flour without breaking down the walls.

Gradually incorporate all the flour and water and start kneading the dough by hand. If you started mixing your dough in a bowl, now is the time to dump it out onto a counter to continue kneading.

If the dough is too dry add more water, a bit at a time. I like to use a spray bottle to sparingly add moisture as needed.

If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour. I like to keep a small amount of flour in a flour shaker which makes it much easier to control how much flour you add as needed.

Your dough should be similar to a playdough consistency. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and is not sticky or tacky. Wrap in cling film or cover with a bowl and let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Once your dough is made and wrapped, you can store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, but bring it back to room temperature before you start to make your pasta shapes.

Unwrap a piece of your dough, making sure to always re-wrap the others to make sure they do not dry out as you work.

Roll out your pasta into a long snake, about 3⁄4” inches thick.

Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut your dough-snake into 1” pieces.

Using your pointer and middle finger, press down into each piece and pull towards you.

Place formed shapes on a semolina or cornmeal covered tray lined with parchment paper. You want to make sure your fresh pasta shapes do not touch each other, or they may stick together.

Cooking Method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (Salt your water like the sea!)

Add the pasta, and don’t worry about all that semolina or cornmeal going into the pot with the pasta, it will create a nice starchy bath for your pasta.

Fresh pasta cooks pretty quickly. The cook time will depend on the size of the pasta. For these two shapes, if you have made them as instructed, they should only take 2-3 minutes to cook. I set a timer and check my pasta frequently after 2 minutes.

Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl and immediately toss with sauce and serve.

Malloreddus (Sardinian Gnocchi)

These are sometimes referred to as gnocchi because of their textured shape (similar to potato or ricotta gnocchi). The simplest household item to create malloreddus is the smooth side of a handheld cheese grater. You can also use the tines of a fork, but the cheese grater gives a very interesting texture.

Preparation

Pour the flour into a bowl or dump on your counter/table.

Create a well in the middle of the flour with your fingers.

Pour 2⁄3 cups of the water in the well, retaining some to add if needed.

With a fork, slowly start incorporating the water with the surrounding flour without breaking down the walls.

Gradually incorporate all the flour and water and start kneading the dough by hand. If you started mixing your dough in a bowl, now is the time to dump it out onto a counter to continue kneading.

If the dough is too dry add more water, a bit at a time. I like to use a spray bottle to sparingly add moisture as needed.

If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour. I like to keep a small amount of flour in a flour shaker which makes it much easier to control how much flour you add as needed.

Your dough should be similar to a playdough consistency. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and is not sticky or tacky. Wrap in cling film or cover with a bowl and let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Once your dough is made and wrapped, you can store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use but bring it back to room temperature before you start to make your pasta shapes.

Unwrap your dough ball and cut it into 8 pieces. Set one piece aside to work with and  re-wrap the others to make sure they do not dry out as you work.

Roll out your pasta into a long snake, about ½” thick.

Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut your dough-snake into small 1⁄2” square pieces.

If using a handheld cheese grater, take one of your dough pieces and using your thumb, place the dough onto your grater, sharp side facing down, and lightly press down and away across the surface. If using a fork, turn the fork over and do the same thing, rolling downward on the curved tines.

Place formed shapes on a semolina or cornmeal covered tray lined with parchment paper. You want to make sure your fresh pasta shapes do not touch each other, or they may stick together.

Cooking Method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (Salt your water like the sea!)

Add the pasta, and don’t worry about all that semolina or cornmeal going into the pot with the pasta, it will create a nice starchy bath for your pasta.

Fresh pasta cooks pretty quickly. The cook time will depend on the size of the pasta. For these two shapes, if you have made them as instructed, they should only take 2-3 minutes to cook. I set a timer and check my pasta frequently after 2 minutes.

Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl and immediately toss with sauce and serve.