Cavatelli (with broccoli)

may 19th 2013

pasta dish, festive dish: without sugar, without yeast, without meat, eggs and dairy

You need to have faith and you must keep believing – always – that one day your dreams can become reality. Maybe mine is coming true.
I was thinking about it since a long time… making a cookbook with my mother’s recipes. Good food has always been an integral part of my life and for sure this comes from my parents. Both can really enjoy tasty food, but the real chef is my mother, now: granny. She comes from Puglia where the cooking traditions are very important, and, even if she leaves in the North of Italy since she was 14, she tries as much as possible to keep this traditions alive. Thanks to her, I have always been in love with the southern mediterranean diet even if I have been born in Modena.
I have always enjoyed cooking, next to eating of course :-), but I always had too little time to really dedicate myself to it. We are constantly running in our everyday life, at least I was, and because of this I never took a pause to prepare, for example, fresh homemade pasta.
Nowadays things have changed. I need to rest and relax in order to allow my body to restore the lost energies and this gives me the chance to dedicate myself to things I like to do and that I would have liked to do for such a long time, but I did not have the time for.



Writing this recipe is for me like handing down – to you and to my children in particular – a part of me that would otherwise get lost. This is a part of me, but also of my mother, the mother of my mother and so on. Just like me, my mother did not regularly make cavatelli with her mother, but she saw her making them a million times. And one day, after the death of my grandmother Addolorata, she started making them learning how to make them by herself. I wanted to avoid this and I preferred drawing on the recipe from a direct source. Probably my old aunt from Bari, “la zia di Bari” (the wife of my grandfather’s brother), would have comments on what I am going to show, but anyway, it doesn’t matter, this is our receipt!
I am very happy I could write it down, especially for my oldest son which defines himself already a “masterchef”. He always helps granny when she starts “playing with dough”. Kylian for the moment just crams himself! These are beautiful memories which I hope will stay always in our heart.

If you want to try to make cavatelli, here are the instructions:

Ingredients for the dough:
800 g “semola rimacinata di grano duro”, hard wheat flower/ harde tarwe bloem
450 g water

Ingredients for the sauce:
1300 g broccoli
25-30 ml extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed/ olijf olie, koud geperst
1 chili pepper/ chili peper
2 anchovies/ ansjovis
4 cloves of garlic/ teentjes knoflook



1.prepare the ingredients: warm up the water (it should be warm but not too much), pour the flower on the wooden plank and create a “fountain” or central hole; 2.add gradually the water (not all in once); 3.start kneading bringing the flower from the outside to the inside; keep on creating a fountain by doing that


4.once added all the water, start to knead energetically; 5.alternate hands each time turning the dough, and use mainly the pulse to make pressure; 6.keep on kneading until the water and the flower are completely amalgamated and the dough is firm and smooth


7.remove a part of the dough; the remaining dough in a plate, cover it in order to avoid it from drying out; 9.start to roll out the dough into a roll thickness of about 2.5-3 cm (if the dough is a bit dry help yourself by making your hands wet with a little water)


10.cut the roll further into smaller pieces; 11.and started to make elongated 1cm-thick stripes out of it by moving the hands from the center towards the outside (you may need to make your hands a little wet again) ; 12.subsequently use plenty of flour and make sure the flour covers the entire surface by rolling them gently

byebyesalsiccia_cavatelli_06 the strips and start to cut them; small cubes of approximately 1 cm x 1 cm ; 15.then – very patiently – start to hollow every cube! Place them on a tray (or more than one!) making sure they do not overlap and are sufficiently covered with flour (to avoid sticking to each other)

Once completed the work, you can let them rest until the moment you cook them (max the morning for the evening) or you could also freeze them. To do that you have to place the tray in the refrigerator just as it is. When they are frozen, or at least quite hard, you can move them from the tray to a plastic bag. In order to cook them, when they are fresh they have to cook only 4 minutes in boiling salted water, when they are frozen 10 minutes.


There are different ways to prepare cavatelli. When my mother was a kid, was often eating them on Sunday with a tomato sauce and meat rolls, or with “cime di rapa”/turning tops (the dutch “raapstelen” are the most similar) or with broccoli. We are not eating meat at the moment, or at least we are limiting its consumption as much as possible, and “cime di rapa” are not easy to find, so we cooked them with broccoli, the beloved vegetables of my kids! To prepare this seasoning you need to detach the broccoli from the stem, wash them and them throw them in boiling salted water. After about 10 minutes (and in any case if the water starts to boil) add the fresh cavatelli. If they start to come to the surface they are ready. Then just drain it all and mix it with plenty of oil that has been previously seasoned and warmed up with garlic, anchovies and chili (for those who like it). Definitely not a diet dish, but certainly healthy!

time 1 hour and 30 minutes approximately of preparation, 20 minutes cooking time

difficulty high
with the knowledge I have now… I know that real cancer fighting food doesn’t really incorporate lots of pasta. This because it is high caloric and because refined flower transforms itself in sugar in our blood, which cancer likes so much. Nevertheless even at Cascina Rosa, the educational institute linked to the Italian National Cancer Center in Milaan, say that pasta saves itself because it is normally made of hard wheat (harde tarwe), which has a lower glycemic index than soft wheat (tarwe). This means that, compared to bread or pasta made with soft wheat, it gives us less sugar in our blood, makes us less fat and keeps us healthier. Anyway, hard or soft wheat… we should not eat too much of it!
My mom always had a joke about a priest who was used to say “do as I say, don’t do as I do!” 🙂




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