Cavatelli, n'duja, tomatoes and aged ricotta
60 gr n’duja
250 ml tomato sauce
50 gr aged ricotta
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
For the Pasta dough
400 gr semola rimacinata flour, sifted
220 ml warm water
pinch of sea salt
For the pasta dough, put the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water then the salt. Using a fork, slowly swirl the flour into the water, beginning with the inner rim of the well, until a dough begins to form. Gather the dough into a mass, work into a ball, then knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth. Let the dough rest, covered with cling film or a clean tea towel for 2 hours.
Divide the dough in half, flatted and cut the portions into 2.5 cm-wide strips. Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough into ‘ropes’ roughly 1.5 cm thick. Lay these ropes on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to 0.5cm in diameter. Cut the rope of dough into 1.5 cm lengths. Lightly dust with flour and place on a floured tray, covered with a tea towel, while you repeat this process with the remaining dough.
To shape the cavatelli, lay a piece of dough on the surface and pull the dough toward you with two fingers using medium pressure. It should roll as you pull. The first few might be difficult and may not be beautiful, but don’t worry – shaping gets easier as you develop a feel for the dough. To stop the pasta going hard and enable you to keep it for longer I always blanch the cavatelli at this stage. Drop them into a pan of salted boiling water and as soon as they float lift them out with a slotted spoon. Mix them with a little olive oil so they don’t stick then put them into sealable packets in the fridge, if using shortly, or the freezer if you want to keep them.
When ready to serve, blanch the cavatelli in salted, boiling water until they float (you can also cook them straight from frozen), then drain, reserving a ladleful or two of the cooking water.
For the sauce, fry the n’duja in a pan set over a medium heat just until it melts. Add the tomato sauce, then two-thirds of the ricotta and mix well.
Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. Spoon into heated serving dishes and serve with the remaining ricotta grated on top, the olive oil drizzled over and some fresh basil leaves.