Cavatelli with “sugo vedovo”

(serves 2 | 1 hour | medium)

Perhaps the most renowned pasta shape produced in Molise are Cavatelli, small nuggets made with flour and water, no eggs, traditionally served with a tomato sauce, or more commonly with a minced meat sauce, especially on the 17th of January, the day of Campobassos’s Saint Patron.

200g durum wheat flour – 1 cup water (roughly) – 4 slices of lard – 1 cup passata – 1 garlic clove – 2 tbsp parsley, minced – extra virgin olive oil – salt and pepper – sugar – grated Pecorino – salt and pepper

  1. Place the durum wheat flour in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and begin adding the water, little by little, and mixing with a fork. Once the flour begins to clump together, begin kneading with your hands, adding water little by little when necessary. Knead until you achieve a smooth and compact dough and the flour no longer sticks to your hands. If the ball does not hold together, add more water, and if it is too sticky, add more flour. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and set to one side to rest. 
  2. In the meantime, slice the lard finely, then mince the garlic and add both to a non-stick pan with a few dollops of olive oil. Let the lard melt and the garlic brown slowly, then add the tomato passata and combine well. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar to taste then let the sauce simmer and thicken slightly. If it becomes too dry, add some water. 
  3. Once the dough has rested for 30 minutes, cut off ¼ of it and begin rolling it out into a long, thin breadstick, roughly one finger wide. Cut off small nuggets, of the width of your index. Roll each nugget lightly between your hands, then place the tip of your index and middle fingers on top of the dough and drag it towards you, pressing down on the wooden surface as you do (check out videos on youtube to get the hang of the cavatelli shape). You should create small, concave gnocchi. If you wish, cut the nuggets slightly wider and use three fingers to drag them out. Repeat for all the dough. 
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a handful of rock salt and throw in the cavatelli. Once the water boils again, cook them for a few minutes then taste one. Once you’re happy with the bite of the cooked cavatelli, drain them, using a slotted spoon, and throw them into the pan with the sauce. Mix everything together well, then serve with a generous serving of grated Pecorino.