Last month we were cruising the Adriatic and one of the ports of call was Bari, Italy. I had done my obligatory research on ‘top things to do’ list for each port and Bari was no exception. There is, however, something to be said when you communicate with the locals – no matter how limited your language skills are. I had an overview of two pages as to what to look out for. I wanted to see the old town food market but we couldn’t find it. John spotted a local tour guide and asked her. She told us it’s not very big or interesting but if we were interested in pasta to check the ladies on Strada Arco Alto. Our curiosity was peaked and asked where this was and she told us across from the old fort you will pass through a stone archway to the street. What a treat! The ladies were out rolling, folding, shaping and drying their pasta.
Yesterday I had a craving for handmade pasta and decided to check out the new cookbook I just received – The Frankies Spuntino. I have quite a collection of cookbooks but none look as good this one! With the gold gilt edges and a faux leather cover, this book looks as though it should be in a special library!
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pasta
1 pound (about 1 pint) ricotta
1 large egg
Pinch of fine sea salt
Up to ¼ cup milk or water if necessary to adjust the dough
Combine the flour, cheese, egg, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough comes together in a shaggy, integrated mass that clings to the hook. If the dough looks dry and refuses to coalesce into a ball, add milk by the tablespoon to encourage it. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it by hand for a couple of minutes to smooth it out. Or, if you don’t have a mixer use the well method by mixing together the egg and ricotta (instead of egg and water) and plopping that down in the center of the well. Otherwise, it works the same way.
Clamp the cavatelli maker onto the edge of the counter or work surface. Cut the ball of dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each ball into a rope just less than 1″ thick. Crank the ropes through the cavatelli machine, lightly dust the cavatelli with flour, and arrange on a baking sheet. Use at once or hold for up to 1 day in the fridge.
If you don’t have a cavatelli maker, prepare the dough as indicated above. After cutting into 1-inch pieces, roll out these pieces (using your fingers) to about 2-inches in length. Place a knife on the edge of the pasta and with a quick movement, roll the pasta. If not sure, view this video on how to. To cook, drop the cavatelli into a large pot of well-salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes after the first few begin to float on top of the water. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I don’t have a cavatelli maker although I am tempted to get one (about $40 to $50 from Amazon), however, I was thinking about the pasta ladies on the street in Bari and they were only using a butter knife. Sure, the maker would make the pasta more pleasing to the eye, but there’s something more believable and rustic about hand made pasta without the intervention of machines. I just realized the photo of the older lady sitting at the end of her pasta trays is the same one in Jamie’s Italy cookbook!