A flavorful blend of traditional Italian cuisine with a slight twist, marrying the tenderness of cavatelli with a fun pesto rich in the fresh flavors of spring and summer.
Originating from the Basilicata, also known as Lucania, in the southern region of Italy, ricotta cavatelli is a pasta with a deep cultural resonance. Unlike its cousin gnocchi, which is made with potato, cavatelli is traditionally made with ricotta and whole milk. The result is a pasta dumpling that’s as tender and light as a feather, yet firm enough to support an all kinds of sauces when cooked al dente. While creating handmade pasta like cavatelli may seem daunting, with patience and a bit of time, it’s actually both fun and totally achievable.
Making cavatelli by hand is often helped by a specially designed board lined with thin ridges. However, if this tool isn’t readily available, the tines of a common kitchen fork or the base of a whisk can serve as practical alternatives. The goal is to create a dumpling that has horizontal ridges on one side with a distinct, elongated indentation down the other. This combination of texture and shape ensures the cavatelli’s ability to hold on to the sauce effectively.
Ricotta cavatelli is traditionally dressed with pesto during the summer months. This dish takes that tradition and gives it a nuttier twist. Steering clear from the customary pine nuts, this recipe uses toasted hazelnuts for an earthier flavor. It also kicks in some seasonal pea sprouts alongside the traditional basil, resulting in a pesto that brings to mind the sweetness and rejuvenation of spring.
This awesome take on a classic dish is a great example of how even the most= traditional recipes can be leveled up. It’s a deliciously delightful gastronomic journey from the sunny climes of Southern Italy to the freshness of a spring garden.
Leili is a Boston-based food writer and recipe developer who shares all of her kitchen adventures on her food blog, Yin and Yolk. She loves cooking up healthy comfort food dishes but also has a passion for pastries, and strives to create recipes that are both delicious and wholesome. When she's not experimenting in the kitchen, she can be found perusing the local farmer's market, jogging through the city, or trying out new places to eat.