We always thought that you needed a machine to make Cavatelli, but that’s not true. All you need is some flour, water, a wooden board, and your two hands. Our pasta making class in Puglia taught us the simple way to make traditional Cavatelli and Orecchiette.
Start by combining semolina flour and a small amount of water in a bowl. Mix with your hands until it’s a smooth, but firm consistency. It should feel like very stiff play-dough. Once the flour and water are combined, knead by hand it to make the pasta dough relax. When it’s kneaded enough, it should look silky. If you’re making a lot of pasta, you’ll want to cover your dough with a damp cloth so that it doesn’t dry out.
Cut off a small chunk of dough. Using your two hands, roll a long thin cylinder from the dough (about the diameter of your pinky finger – try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible) . Cut off each end and discard them.
To make Orecchiette:
Cut a piece of dough from the cylinder about the width of your thumb. Place the small piece of dough on the wooden board. Use the back part of the tip of a dinner knife (the flat part of the knife should face you, and the curved edge should face way) to press into the dough and roll toward you. This should create a dimpled oval. Take the pasta piece from the tip of the knife, and flip it over your thumb (turning it inside out into the signature ear shape). Lay the pasta out to air dry so the bump is facing up and the air can dry them
To make Cavatelli:
Cut a piece of dough from your cylinder that’s two fingers wide. Place two of your finger tips (index and middle) on top of the dough and roll your fingers toward youwith slight pressure to curl the dough. Immediately flick the cavatelli forward (away from you) with your two fingers and start your next piece. Flicking the pasta on the wood will add to the texture of the outside of the pasta and allow more sauce to stick to it.
To make small Cavatelli, follow the instructions above, but cut the pasta dough a little smaller than one finger tip wide. Then use one finger tip to roll and flick your pasta.
To make long Cavatelli, follow the instructions above, but cut the pasta dough the length of four fingers, and use your four fingers to create the pasta shape. Also slightly pull the ends of the pasta to stretch a little.
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