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Cavatelli is a typical Southern Italian pasta made out of just durum wheat semolina flour and water. The starch contained in the durum gives this pasta its distinctive and firm texture, perfect to go with a simple tomato sauce or with a rich Bolognese. Make sure to use a very fine semolina (called durum or semola rimacinata) or the dough will be too stiff.

Recipe Summary

40 mins
1 hr
1 hr 40 mins
4 servings


Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Mix semolina flour and salt in a large bowl or on a marble work surface. Make a well in the center.

  • Pour water into the well a little at a time, mixing it with the flour. Add as much water as needed to make a sticky but compact dough.

  • Knead dough with your hands by flattening the ball, stretching it, and folding the top towards the center. Turn 45 degrees and repeat until dough is elastic and smooth, but not too soft, about 10 minutes.

  • Shape dough into a ball. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using. If you are using the cavatelli within a few hours or the following day, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

  • Work with one portion of the dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered to keep it from drying out. Dust a work surface with semolina flour; roll out the dough to make a rope, about 1/3 inch thick.

  • Cut off little 1/3-inch-thick pieces. Press and gently drag the small piece of dough towards you with your index and middle finger. The two sides will curl inwards, leaving hollow spaces.

  • Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough. Transfer cavatelli to a floured surface and sprinkle with more semolina flour. Do not overlap cavatelli or they will stick together. Let dry for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Cook's Notes:

If not using the cavatelli right away, let stand at room temperature for 24 hours and then transfer to a paper bag. Check from time to time to make sure no mold develops, and use within a week.

Cooking time will depend on dryness. If the cavatelli are freshly made, it will take about 5 minutes. If they are a few days old, cooking takes about 8 to 10 minutes. In any case, as always when cooking pasta, the best way to check is to taste.

If you cannot find the durum or semolina "rimacinata", mix regular semolina with plain white flour in 50-50 ratio.

Nutrition Facts

338 calories; protein 11.9g; carbohydrates 68.4g; fat 1g; sodium 41.5mg. Full Nutrition