Rhode Island friends are in town and we we’re making 2 classic Italian-American pasta dishes. Carol brought a cavati pasta machine all the way from Little Rhody. I’ve never seen this contraption and I was anxious to try it out.
You say cavati, I say gavadeal. These are RI and Jersey slang for the same pasta, better known as cavatelli.
Carol was the lead cook. Her cavati pasta dough is simply ricotta, milk, flour and an egg. This isn’t the gnocchi dough that is hardly kneaded so it stays light and tender. This dough is kneaded well to form a stiff, resilient dough, tough enough to be rolled into ropes and fed into the cavatelli pasta machine. It’s the fresh version of dried cavatelli pasta and it’s worth the effort. We made the cavati dough by hand but you can make it in a food processor to save time and effort. Mix the ingredients and knead it well to form a stiff dough.
Roll out 1 inch dough ropes, feed it into the machine and crank. Out pop the cavati. The machine is amazing. Just keep cranking and in a couple of minutes you have a sea of cavati.
My mother dried her fresh pasta on a clean sheet atop her bed. We dried ours on the dining room table. Spread them out so they don’t touch one another and stick together. Let the cavati dry for 30 minutes.
Carol made 2 sauces for the cavati — broccoli rabe with garlic, EVOO and chicken stock and the classic vodka cream sauce. Both were delicious. Here’s my first plate. The fresh cavati have a great toothsome feel, tender but resilient with each bite. The broccoli rabe sauce is garlicky and really rich with chicken stock flavor. The pink vodka sauce with flecks of tomato is silky and the cream mellows the San Marzano tomatoes. Buon appetitio!
If you have a cavatelli machine you are in good shape. If you do not simply roll out 1/2 inch ropes of dough. Cut the ropes in 1 inch pieces. Using your thumb press hard on each piece to flatten it out. It should curl up tightly as you press & pull with your thumb. You can get an idea of how to form these by watching my gnocchi video. The difference between the two is that you don’t want the puffy gnocchi form but rather a flat disk that tightly curls from the pressure of your thumb.
A man can only be confined to the concrete jungle for so long. I needed a break from the city. I boarded Amtrak at Penn Station for the 3 hour ride up the coast to Rhode Island, looking forward to a week on the beach before heading back to San Francisco. A special dinner with friends at their beach house was on the schedule.
The fishermen were washing down their boats when we arrived early in the morning. The day’s haul had been delivered to our Galilee RI fishmonger. And we were on a mission. I was making my friend her favorite meal. It was my birthday present to her–linguine with mussels and clams, boiled lobster and freshly picked sweet corn. Prosecco to wash it all down.
We had a hard time deciding between the little neck clams and the steamers. If I was still in Jersey I would have grabbed the little necks but in Rhode Island they love steamers, sweet little clams with a softer shell. To ensure tenderness when cooked quickly, I picked only mussels that were the same size as the steamers, small and heavy in my hand.
Here they are steamed in white wine, garlic, EVOO and parsley over linguine. Take the clams and mussels out when the shells open. Finish cooking the linguine in the briny broth and then mix in the clams and mussels. (Stay tuned an episode of steaming mussels and clams is coming up soon.)
Our fishmonger tempted us with this twelve pound monster from the Deep but we wanted smaller more tender ones for our special meal.
We bought my favorite size –one and a half pounders–tender and sweet. Put the lobsters head first in a big pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and bring it back to a rapid boil. Take them out of the pot after 10 minutes. I wrapped the freshly picked corn in plastic wrap sprinkled with salt and black pepper and a couple of dabs of unsalted butter and OMG nuked it for 3 minutes. Sweet and crunchy steamed in its own juices.
I only eat the claws and the tail. All of the bodies go to the birthday girl who scours every inch of the shell and legs for every last morsel of lobster–it prolongs the pleasure she says. Here’s my dish after the feast.
If your in the area here’s my fishmonger–always fresh and always top quality. It’s right next to the Block Island ferry pier in Galilee RI.