Gnocchuli Cavati | Sicilian Pasta Recipe
This handmade pasta is extremely rare, even in Italy. You won't find it on store shelves, so you either need to know someone who can make it, or learn to make it yourself! It is a very thick, satisfying shape with big indentations for holding sauce.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
To make the pasta, you will need:
- 1 2/3 cup (200g) semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
- 6 3/4 tbsp (100ml) water
To make the sauce, you will need:
- 30-35 (40g) almonds
- 2 ripe vine tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 4-6 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
- Fresh black pepper
Pour the flour into a pile on a smooth work surface, and hollow out the center into a volcano shape. Pour the water into the center depression. Using a fork, whisk the water while gradually mixing in the surrounding flour.
When the mixture forms a thick goop, use your hands to fold in more flour and begin kneading the dough. Continue to knead until the dough is soft and smooth, but not sticky. The amount of flour needed can vary depending on the environment, so don't worry if your dough doesn't quite incorporate all of the flour (or requires a little more). It will take what it wants!
Wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
After the dough has rested, it's time to form the shape! We recommend working in batches. Cut off a manageable section of the dough (about 1/3-1/2) and keep the rest wrapped in plastic.
Roll one end of the dough with your hands into a thin "snake." It should be about the width of a pinky, and long enough to place 8 fingertips along its length. Place the tips of your fingers on top of the strand, press down gently, and roll your hands toward you.
The result should be a long piece of pasta with 8 holes pressed into it. Break this piece off from the rest of the dough and set aside on a plate or baking sheet. Continue until all of the dough has been formed into "gnocchuli."
To make the sauce, begin by soaking the almonds in water. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to boil.
Using a paring knife, slice a small cross shape into the top of each tomato. Carefully drop them into the water and boil for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and peel the skin off, using the corners of the cross-cuts to do so. Chop the tomatoes.
Similarly, drain and peel the almonds. After soaking for a few minutes, the almond skins will pop right off when squeezed.
In a mortar and pestle, add the garlic clove, almonds and basil. Mash until they create a chunky paste, then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to mash. Once the mixture is an even paste, transfer it into a mixing bowl. Stir in the olive oil, plus grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt it generously, add the pasta, and stir once or twice to prevent sticking. The cook time will be about 5-6 minutes, but be sure to taste it because this can vary with the thickness of the pasta. When the gnocchuli are "al dente" to your taste, use a slotted spoon to transfer them into the sauce bowl.
Mix the pasta and the sauce together thoroughly. If the sauce seems too thick to you, feel free to thin it with a little bit of pasta water. Serve immediately, topped with extra grated cheese.