DECEMBER 28 2011


For dinner tonight, we made the alternate, and vegetarian, preparation of the ricotta cavatelli. Although the cauliflower was the only technical difference between the recipes, there were actually four things that changed since last time.

1. Roasted cauliflower replaces the Italian sausage
2. I didn't have enough ricotta so made up the difference with creme fraiche
3. I tried the "well method" to make the pasta dough
4. This time I had a cavatelli roller!

So, I never really intended to try the well method to make pasta. At least I hadn't made it a requirement in my head for this project. But, since I was halving an already small quantity of pasta dough, I decided to give it a shot because I wasn't sure there would be enough mass for the stand mixer.

The well method is undoubtedly messier and more of a pain, but the resulting dough seemed equivalent to my previous versions, even with the creme fraiche substitution.
First, dump all the flour into a pile on a cutting board and make a hole in the middle. Whisk together the egg and ricotta (and creme fraiche) and dump it into the mouth of the volcano.

flour volcano

Using a fork, gently stir the egg mixture which pulls in flour and slowly becomes thicker and thicker. This is the messiest part as the flour starts to fly everywhere and the lava kept trying to escape over the edges.

lava flow escaping!

At some point, when the mix is becoming thick, ditch the fork and start kneading in the remaining flour. Knead 8 minutes (set an alarm!) until the dough becomes a nice, smooth, elastic ball.

kneaded into submission

Based on my experience last time, I let the dough rest about 20 minutes before rolling it out so it could relax and would be less elastic-y. Not wanting to pull out another kitchen gadget, I ignored the suggestion by the instructions that I should use a pasta roller and roll the dough out 3/8" thick. Instead, I rolled it into snakes by hand then flattened it slightly with my rolling pin. This did cause some problems when putting the dough through the cavatelli roller. The pastas were less consistent and dough would occasionally squish out the sides... but whatever! Way easier than rolling by hand!

delicate little cavatelli

Once we had enough cavatelli to make a meal, I changed focus to the sauce. The cauliflower had been roasted a few days ago and was waiting in the fridge for this dish, so I just dumped it into a pan with a little butter to warm up. It then comes out of the pan and additional butter is browned with sage leaves as the pasta cooks. After 4 minutes, the cavatelli are stirred into the butter sauce along with a bunch of pecorino and chopped parsley. Let's eat!

ricotta cavatelli with cauliflower and a fresh mozzarella salad

Overall, this was the far superior version of this dish. I contribute that mostly to the cavatelli roller which produced significantly lighter and more delicate pasta. And the lack of sausage, which made everything way less greasy. Super good! We ate every bite!

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