Cavatelli della Nonna available HERE!
To make the Cavatelli:
- Pour the semolina onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Add the water little by little, a few tablespoons at a time. Begin to mix with your fingers, catching any water that tries to escape from the sides.
- Keep adding the water while trying to form a uniform ball of dough.
- The dough will be crumbly at first but will begin to come together after 5-7 minutes of kneading.
- Once you have obtained a uniform ball of dough and the dough no longer sticks to your hands, keep kneading with the heels of your hands for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft but firm enough to hold an indentation. The end result should feel somewhat like playdo- damp to the touch but not sticky. If the dough feels too wet, dust it and your work surface with extra semolina. If the dough feels too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and knead it through.
To make Cavatelli in a stand mixer:
- Add the semolina to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the water a little at a time until fully absorbed. Continue mixing on low speed for 5-6 minutes. The dough will be crumbly.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and knead by hand until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Be sure to collect any small crumbs of dough.
- Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. After the dough has rested, roll it out to the desired thickness. Keep any dough that is not in use under a damp towel to prevent drying as you roll out the rest of the dough.
- To roll out the dough by hand cut the dough into 10 pieces and roll one piece at a time into a 1/2 inch thick rope. While rolling keep your fingers together and spread them apart to lengthen the rope.
- Cut off 1/4 inch pieces from the rope. With a serrated edge knife, like the Nonna Knife, press down on the piece of dough with your left index finger on the top. Drag the piece of dough towards you while applying moderate pressure.
To make the Meatballs:
- In a large mixing bowl combine all the Meatball ingredients and shape the mixture into meatballs about the size of a walnut.
- Put a skillet over a high flame and heat 1 inch of frying oil. Fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
To make the Sauce:
- Put a skillet over a medium flame and heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds.
- Add the passata and salt and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs to the sauce lower the flame to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a plate.
- Drop the pasta into a large pot of salted boiling water. If using fresh pasta cook until the Cavatelli bob to the surface, about 4-5 minutes. If using dried pasta cook according to the package instructions.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Serve in warm bowls accompanied by the meatballs and a generous sprinkle of grated cheese.