What Are Cavatelli?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Cauliflower is a popular addition to cavatelli.
Cauliflower is a popular addition to cavatelli.

Dozens of delicious pastas make up the flavorful world of Italian cuisine. Cavatelli is a durum flour-based pasta that works with marinara sauce, cream sauce, and many other variations. Shaped like a small hot dog bun with a long, rolled edge, cavatelli pasta is good for holding thick, creamy sauces.

A product of southern Italy, these noodles are traditionally made by hand. After the dough is rolled out, the long strands of tubular pasta are cut into bite-sized pieces. Each noodle is then flattened by thumb, then rolled to form the curved, hot dog bun-shaped noodle the pasta is famous for.

Green olives are a popular addition to cavatelli.
Green olives are a popular addition to cavatelli.

When cavatelli noodles are unavailable, some similar noodles can be used. Conchiglioni, casarecci, and cochiglie noodles can hold the chunky sauces that cavetelli is typically intended for. Casarecci, in particular, is very similar to cavatelli, though it is a longer noodle. All of these noodles can also be used in pasta salad recipes.

Broccoli is a favorite serving suggestion used with cavatelli pasta. Other common additions include shrimp, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomatoes, capers, green olives, spinach, and squash. The pasta can also work well when served with meat, such as chicken or turkey. Sauces made with cream, vegetables, meat, and seafood all work well with this type of pasta.

When sold in the grocery store, cavatelli noodles are often found in the frozen foods section.
When sold in the grocery store, cavatelli noodles are often found in the frozen foods section.

Making cavatelli noodles at home is possible, though it is not considered an easy culinary endeavor. To make the pasta, slowly stir together one pound (half of one kilogram) of flour, two eggs, and one pound (half of one kilogram) of ricotta cheese. Knead the mixture to create a soft, pliable dough.

Wrap the dough and cover in a dish for a minimum of thirty minutes. Once ready to form the pasta shapes, divide the dough into sections and roll them into tubes. Cut each tube into one-inch (two and one-half centimeters) sections before rolling them into curved shapes. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Spinach and other dark leafy greens can be included in vegetarian cavatelli dishes.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens can be included in vegetarian cavatelli dishes.

Purchasing the noodles is not usually required, however. Many grocery stores and most specialty Italian food shops carry the pasta. When sold in the grocery store, these noodles are often found in the frozen foods section. Many restaurants, both Italian and non-Italian, also serve the cuisine.

Cavatelli noodles should not be confused with gnocchi. Though similar in shape, the former is made up of a harder base of flour. The noodles may also contain ricotta cheese as a final product. Gnocchi, instead, is a softer noodle, typically made from potatoes.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

gravois

I love to make baked pastas with cavatelli. I love baked pasta in general, but I always come back to cavatelli because the long corkscrew tube fills up with the sauce so nicely. You get a full bite of all the favors every time.

I think that the long hot baking process allows all the sauce to creep into the tubes over the cooking time. I have tried this with both tomato and cream sauces and it tastes great either way. Lots of people wouldn't think of cavatelli when they go to make baked pasta preferring rigatoni or zitti but cavatelli will surprise you. Fire up your over this Sunday and give it a try!

andee

I have never tried a pasta noodle that I didn't like. Some of them I prefer more than others, but for some reason cavatelli noodles are one of my favorites.

There is a grocery store near me that sells eight finger cavatelli noodles. These come frozen in packages and are long, thick noodles that taste wonderful when I add my sauce and cheese.

I always think I am going to try and make my own pasta noodles some day. It sounds like it would take some time and that is one thing I don't usually have much of.

It is much easier and quicker to buy something that is already made.

bagley79

Cavatelli is my husbands favorite pasta dish. When we go to an Italian restaurant I usually order pizza and he will order their specialty - which happens to be cavatelli.

Once I tried a cavatelli broccoli which really tasted good. I am not much of a meat eater, and this was made with cavtaelli noodles, an Alfredo sauce, broccoli and mozzarella cheese.

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    • Cauliflower is a popular addition to cavatelli.
      Cauliflower is a popular addition to cavatelli.
    • Green olives are a popular addition to cavatelli.
      Green olives are a popular addition to cavatelli.
    • When sold in the grocery store, cavatelli noodles are often found in the frozen foods section.
      When sold in the grocery store, cavatelli noodles are often found in the frozen foods section.
    • Spinach and other dark leafy greens can be included in vegetarian cavatelli dishes.
      Spinach and other dark leafy greens can be included in vegetarian cavatelli dishes.
    • Cavatelli are from Sicily and Southern Italy.
      Cavatelli are from Sicily and Southern Italy.
    • Mushrooms are often served alongside cavatelli.
      Mushrooms are often served alongside cavatelli.