Easy to make Homemade Cavatelli with Broccoli is a simple yet classic Italian recipe dish. You’ll be happy to know that these fresh handmade pasta noodles can be frozen for later use to have on hand at a moments notice.
Cavatelli are bite-sized pasta shells with an indentation in the noodle that traps and holds the flavours of the pasta sauce.
There’re a specialty of southern Italy and the name of the pasta comes from cavato, which means to carve out.
This type of pasta noodle was definitely not a variety that I grew up with. I was first introduced to these delicate handmade pasta morsels by my mother-in-law who was from the Molise region of Italy.
At first glance they looked similar in appearance to potato gnocchi, my absolute favourite childhood dish!
Although both have humble beginnings, with very few ingredients needed, they do differ somewhat in texture.
Potato gnocchi are slightly plumper and light in taste considering that there’s potato in the dough.
However, I find that cavatelli tend to have a firmer shape and more of an al dente bite to the cooked noodles.
This pasta recipe pairs well with just about any sauce. From a simple tomato sauce, to a quick sauté of some extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
And for meat lovers you can add some hot or mild Italian sausage to your olive oil and garlic sauté.
It’s simple Italian style cooking that screams comfort food.
CAVATELLI PASTA INGREDIENTS:
There are a few simple ingredients that go into making this homemade pasta recipe.
Basically all you’ll need are:
- all purpose flour
- extra virgin olive oil
How to make homemade cavatelli pasta dough
Just recently I’ve started to make these homemade noodles in my stand mixer and oh…my…goodness it’s so much easier on my hands. Say’s the blogger with the arthritic right hand…lol!
You start by placing the flour and salt in your mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Then pour about 3/4 cup of water and the olive oil in the hollow centre.
Using the stand mixer or hand-held mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix until a very soft ball forms. (The photo above shows how the dough looked after 1 minute of kneading.)
As it kneads, it will completely pull away from the sides of the bowl while picking up all the remaining bits of dough.
Continue kneading the dough for about 8 to 9 minutes more, until the dough is fairly smooth and not sticky. If it’s still a little sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour, about a teaspoon at a time. Continue kneading until combined.
Cover with plastic cling wrap and let the pasta dough rest for 1 hour. This allows the gluten to relax and makes it easier to roll and shape the noodles.
Mind you, you can take a short nap as well if you like while the dough rests. No judgements here!
When ready to roll and shape the pasta, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Work with one piece at a time while keeping the remaining dough covered with a clean kitchen cloth.
There’s no need to flour your work surface. This actually impedes the process.
Roll the piece of dough out into a pencil thin rope. Cut the rope into 1 inch to an inch and a half pieces, and dust with flour.
Use a gnocchi board to make the little caves or indentations in the dough by sliding each piece over the board with your fingers.
I actually used a chopstick to press the dough down over the ridged board to twirl the noodles.
But if you don’t have a gnocchi board, no worries! You can use the back of a fork or simply your fingers.
Transfer the shaped pasta on a baking tray dusted with either all purpose flour or semolina flour. Repeat the whole process with the remaining dough.
My favourite way of serving homemade cavatelli and broccoli is with a very simple sauté of extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes and smashed garlic cloves.
Homemade Cavatelli and Broccoli Recipe
To put this cavatelli recipe together, you’ll need approximately 4 cups of cut and rinsed broccoli florets.
Some red pepper flakes and cloves of garlic. The more the better…we love our garlic!
Start by cooking the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the fresh pasta to the broccoli water and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes or till it’s tender to the bite.
While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the red chilli flakes with the smashed garlic. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir to brown the garlic all over.
And this can be ready in as little time as it takes to cook the noodles.
Then drain the pasta add to the sauté pan along with the broccoli.
Then plate and serve with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
You may want to pass around some extra chilli flakes for those who love a whole lot of heat. And don’t forget that generous topping of Parmesan cheese.
Can You Freeze Cavatelli
Yes! You can absolutely freeze these fresh pasta noodles after they’ve been shaped.
You’ll need a large baking sheet dusted with semolina flour. Simply transfer the noodles to the prepared baking sheet and spread them out into one single layer.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer and allow the fresh pasta shapes to freeze until firm. For about 30 minutes or so.
Once firm, transfer them to a plastic freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.
You won’t need to thaw them before cooking but they will need a couple of minutes longer to cook.
If you make this recipe remember to tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!
Recipe was first published March 15, 2019 and republished with new photos and content August 22, 2020.
Homemade Cavatelli with Broccoli
- Stand mixer or hand held mixer with hook attachment
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup water room temperature
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling over the finished dish
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- fine sea salt to your taste
- freshly crushed black pepper to your taste
- 1 tablespoon semolina flour for dusting a rimmed cookie sheet
- grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil.
- Using the stand mixer with the hook attachment, knead until a soft ball forms. About 8 to 10 minutes.
- The dough should be fairly smooth and not sticky. (if still sticky just knead in a little more flour, a teaspoon at a time.)
- The dough is ready when it's smooth and springs back when poked.
- When you're finished kneading, cover the dough with cling wrap and let it rest for 60 minutes at room temperature.
- The resting time relaxes the gluten in the dough and makes it easier to roll and shape.
- Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with some semolina flour and set aside.
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces.
- Working with one piece at a time, while keeping the remaining dough covered, roll the piece out into a pencil thin rope.
- Cut the rope into 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
- Use a gnocchi board if you have, to make the little caves or indentations in the dough.
- If you don't have a gnocchi board, use your index and middle fingers to press down into the dough and swiping towards you. This will create the distinctive crevice.
- Transfer the cavatell to your prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Salt the water and add in the broccoli.
- Cook the broccoli till fork tender, about 4 minutes.
- Once the broccoli is cooked, remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon but DO NOT throw out the water. Save to cook the cavatelli.
- Transfer the broccoli to a large skimming bowl and run under cold water. Set aside.
- Bring the water back to boil if needed and add in the cavatelli.
- Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or till al dente.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium low heat.
- Add in the crushed garlic, pepper flakes and a dash of salt and pepper to your taste.
- Stir to brown the garlic all over. This will take 2 minutes or so.
- Drain the cavatelli while reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- Add the cooked cavatelli and the broccoli to the skillet with the browned garlic sauce.
- Toss to mix well and add a little of the reserved pasta water if needed.
- Plate and serve with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and freshly grated cheese if desired.