Chef Dena Marino – MC Kitchen

Ingredients

Cavatelli pasta (if making your own – see note below)
20 oz. Ricotta cheese
5½ cups Italian 00 Flour, divided (available at specialty grocery stores)
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
4 Egg Yolks
2½ tsp. Kosher salt

Tomato Sauce

24 oz. plum tomatoes, canned (pureed)
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp. Butter unsalted
Crushed red pepper (Optional)

For Serving

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (grated)
1 cup fresh basil (rough chopped)

About the Pasta

While you can use purchased cavatelli, either fresh or dried (just be sure to check the cooking time for dried – it will be much longer than for fresh), if you want the full Dena Marino experience you’ll want to make your own ricotta cheese pasta. All it takes is a little time, and a home pasta machine with cavatelli rollers. Here’s how:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the ricotta and eggs yolks and mix until combined. Add 3½ cups flour, one cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl - it will be slightly wet. Remove from bowl and begin to knead by hand adding the additional two cups of flour. This will take about 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into five or six pieces, and roll the pieces into ropes about ¼-inch in diameter. Cut each rope into 12-inch pieces.

Feed the rope into the cavatelli pasta machine, use one hand to feed the strip between the wooden rollers while using the other hand to turn the handle clockwise. The cavatelli pasta will start to fall from the machine. Place them on a lightly floured sheet tray. Let them rest for approximately 30 minutes (or freeze to use later).

While the pasta is resting, make the tomato sauce:

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add the chopped garlic and cook until lightly brown. Add the pureed plum tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

Prepare the pasta

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cavatelli and cook for 3 to 5 minutes (for fresh pasta), or until the cavatelli floats to the surface. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan of tomato sauce. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Now is the time to add the crushed red pepper if you like a little spice.

Add the butter and ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Toss the cavatelli, taste for a final seasoning check and spoon onto plates. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese and the basil on top and serve.