Cavatelli, yay or nay?
I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of Cavatelli. But when a local restaurant featured the pasta as one of their weekend specials, it was obvious that I would be asked to recreate the dish. So, while my wife and I shared a portion as a Primi, my cranium began the reverse engineering process.
Clearly there weren’t too many ingredients involved. Simple, fresh. The hallmarks of Italian peasant cooking. Granted, I’m not convinced of the authentic-ness of the instant recipe, but I know one thing: it’s really delicious.
Cavatelli con Tartufo Nero
As with most of the Recipes I publish here, they are simple, fresh and delicious. Since perfecting this one, I have successfully used prosciutto and guanciale. I’ll discuss both below. The dish at the restaurant relied on prosciutto.
1 pound fresh or frozen Cavatelli
8 oz. frozen peas
6 oz. prosciutto cut into ribbons
1/4 cup light cream
2 ounces Black Truffle Oil
Reserved pasta cooking water
Set a pot of water to boil. In a pan large enough to hold the finished pasta, slowly begin rendering the fat from the prosciutto or guanciale. Keep the flame low so it doesn’t smoke. This will take longer if using the guanciale; otherwise about 5 minutes. Add the peas and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Next, add the cream and stir through keeping the flame on low. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
The cavatelli are done when they float to the top but they should be al dente just like any other pasta. Just before the pasta is ready to be drained to the sauce, add the truffle oil. It’s important to do at the last minute. You want to use the oil almost as you would a fresh herb. Don’t put it in at the beginning and cook it with the cream. A word on truffle oil: Lots of people don’t like them but I’m not one of them. If you buy a good product from an Italian specialty store, you’ll be in good shape. The widely available ones can be “truffle flavored” and they are garbage. And don’t balk at the price. A little goes a long way. The 6 oz. bottle I got cost me around $20. But it will last for several months.
Finally, grate some fresh Pecorino and enjoy! If you happen to have a fresh black truffle, by all means shave some on top! Add some crushed red pepper for spice and as I said, do try this with guanciale.
This recipe has been a huge hit. In the last month, I’ve made it three times as it keeps getting requested!
Give it a try and let me hear your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @JohnMFodera