CHUCK CINELLI / COCO'S ITALIAN MARKET
Gnocchi is made with potato starch
but for the sake of time and ease we are going to make gnocchi shaped pasta with
Cavatelli ingredients. At the end of this recipe you can read the
comparisons and contrasts of these two pastas.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the pasta with only two ingredients: equal parts flour and ricotta cheese. You will need a fork for cutting and shaping. This is the base and it is a great carrier for any flavor profiles you want to add to the pasta, sauces or soups.
1. Empty the ricotta cheese container on your counter or into a mixing bowl.
2. The cheese container is the measuring cup for your dry ingredients - fill it with flour and a tablespoon of salt.
3. Empty into the bowl with the cheese and start mixing with your hands or a rubber spatula.
4. Once it's a dough ball let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
5. Take your dough ball and cut off palm size chunks.
6. Flour your counter top and roll the dough into snakes the width of your pinky.
7. Starting at the end of the snake use the teeth of the fork to get the length of the bite sizes, cut it and roll it across your fork in one motion to give it grooves. This is takes practice.
8. Drop them in the boiling water, when they float (45 seconds) they are done.
9. Fish them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add sauce.
10. Garnish with cheese, add a protein and vegetable for a complete meal and serve.
Cavatelli vs. Gnocchi
Cavatelli and Gnocchi may look similar but they are very different pastas. Cavatelli is made of flour, Gnocchi is softer because it's made with made from boiled potatoes put through a ricer and flour and egg as a binder.
Cavatelli a product of Southern Italy and Gnocchi recipes are most common in northern Italy were milk was a more common ingredient. Both pastas are traditionally made by hand. After the dough is rolled out, the long strands of pasta are cut into bite-sized pieces and either rolled with a fork to give grooves or dimpled with a finger or pressed.
then rolled to form a crease. Either way the goal is to create a texture that helps hold the sauce.
Variations to this recipe
Add an Egg, Anchovy Paste (my favorite), Sautéed ground carrots or beets, Pumpkin from a can.
Just remember that if the ingredient is moist add an equal part dry, the flour, so if you use a large dollop of pumpkin add equal parts flour by volume not weight.
Make them with jam and plums. Some regions of Northern Italy make a variation of these as a dessert.
With Broccoli in an Alfredo sauce.
Sausage and Butternut Squash in an herb oil.
Here are two tips:
Salt your water as salty as the sea.
Save a cup of the starchy water you may need it with the sauce to loosen up the pasta again.