Cavatelli al pomodoro ricco

Cavatelli al pomodoro ricco

Cavatelli with rich tomato sauce

Modern Italian Food
Earl Carter

One of the simplest pasta I know. It presents some difficulty in the preparation though, because it consists of only two ingredients – flour and liquid. It is all too easy to make a tough dough by not mixing in enough liquid. As with all traditional recipes, practice makes perfect.

The following recipe is strictly traditional, as is the accompanying sauce. I once prepared a dinner with Cheong Liew at the Grange Restaurant in Adelaide in which Cheong made perfectly soft, yet firm, cavatelli that he served with a veal, cucumber and tea sauce. I encourage you to be more adventurous too, and have therefore included a recipe for veal and cucumber sauce, inspired by Cheong, but made in a more Italian way.



Quantity Ingredient
500g strong flour
125ml hot water
125ml hot milk


Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium-sized brown onion, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 lamb neck, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks
300g stewing beef, cut into chunks, preferably on the bone
200g pork shoulder, cut into chunks
100ml red wine
salt and pepper
500g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
selection of fresh herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, basil or a little thyme, tied in a bunch
pecorino, freshly grated


  1. To make the pasta, combine the flour, hot water and milk in a bowl or on the bench and mix until the dough is a smooth and elastic ball. The dough may take a little kneading to come together. Rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Flour the workbench well. Cut out a small piece of dough (about the size of a walnut) and roll it out into a long strip until it is about the thickness of a child’s little finger. Cut into 2 cm lengths. Put your index and middle finger together, push in on a small piece of dough and drag it along the bench. The dough should almost curl in on itself, creating a hollow in the middle. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  3. To cook, drop the cavatelli into a large pot of boiling salted water. This dough needs to cook for 6–10 minutes, and the cavatelli will expand quite visibly. Do avoid overcooking, though. They should be soft, yet show a little resistance to the tooth.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the vegetables and garlic until they start to soften.
  5. Add the meat and fry until they start to turn a light brown. Add the wine, season with salt and pepper, and add the tomatoes. Finally, add the herbs. Cook for at least 1 1⁄2 hours. You may need to top up the cooking liquid with a little warm water from time to time.
  6. At the end of the cooking time, remove the meat and the herbs. The meat will be pretty ‘exhausted’, but can still be eaten if you wish. This is a robust sauce, which should be tossed through the cavatelli and served with freshly grated pecorino.
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