couple cavatelli

the short story:

pasta: 1 lb frozen or dry cavatelli

processable veggie group: 1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
1/3 (orange) bell pepper
7-8 small mushrooms
1 elephant garlic clove or a couple regulars

sauté facilitators: 2 T butter
2 T olive oil

tomato sauce component: 1 28oz can Italian plum tomatoes

serving touch: 1/2 c freshly ground parmesan
freshly ground black pepper to taste
(optional salt to taste)


  1. Start the cavatelli water boiling and dump in when ready with your best guess about the salt.
  2. Meanwhile chop and sauté the processable veggie group in the saute facilitators in a large (nonstick) saucepan. We used our food processor for veggie prep.
  3. When the processable veggie group is softened, dump in the (contents of the) can of tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or more until liquid is reduced. Try not to burn it near the end. Coordinate with the cavatelli boiling time.
  4. Combine with the drained pasta and cheese.
  5. Serve with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  6. Feeds 2 with improved leftovers for lunch the next day (or 4 if not main dish). This ages well.

the long story

The dr bob kitchen had no real food processor originally. This was not because dr bob does not like kitchen gadgets. It's the decision making process. If a food processor is as great as the freely given hype one hears about it from regular people, one should get the best. The best that one can afford, that is. After absorbing enough advertising to be convinced that the French sounding one might be the best, it proved to be expensive enough to wait for the good deal. The best deal. The deal which never seemed to come. Years went by.

So dr bob merged with ms_ani and DRAT! they get a not-a-real-food-processor as a wedding gift. A blender with a pathetic looking little food processor attachment. Which sat in a closet for 5 months along with many other closet wedding gifts. dr bob not only had a better regular blender, but a Vitamix superblender to boot. No problem shelling out the 3 C-notes (plastic of course) at the home show for that gadget. Nothing else like it to require decision making delays and the home show provided the deal. Same story with the super pressure cooker which came in just under 2 C-notes. Another fantastic gadget. But this story is about the food processor.

dr bob picked up a pound of "homemade" cavatelli in the supermarket. Cavatelli are like poor man's macaroni, a poor man lacking an extruder pasta machine that pushes out pasta with holes in the middle. One cavatello is about an inch and a half long with the sides sort of pushed together to simulate an almost closed tube. A little thicker in the middle. Needing a tomato sauce that would go well with our other favorite strange pasta orecchiette (also from the same Pugliesi people in the heal of Italy). So as usual on hand ingredients had to suffice. A leftover orange pepper piece, some leftover mushrooms, an uncustomary celery bunch almost never on hand since it rarely survives the refrigerator wait. An onion. An elephant garlic clove surprisingly found in the supermarket for the first time. So it looked like a lot of chopping. Of course bob already had a manual vegetable dicer bought on the street long before in Germany (also seen at the home show). But then the not-a-real-food-processor blender in the closet popped into mind. Might as well try it out since they were clearly stuck with it, and even farther from buying a real one with it on their conscience. So out of the box, the usual new product warm water procedure and chop chop chop. Waddaya know. Works pretty well for 2 people size food processing. Effortless. Maybe even acceptable.

So here's the deal. If you've got a food processor, cheap, expensive, or not real as the case may be, or a manual veggie dicer, or just an appropriate knife, chop up the processable group of 5 veggies into small pieces, and sauté them in the butter and oil. Then dump in the can of Italian plum tomatoes—better if they already come with internal basil leaves. Break up the tomatoes—we had some hard ones this time—and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally. The sauce stiffens up by liquid reduction. Be careful at the end to reduce the heat since it may begin to burn even in a nonstick pan as it thickens up. Drain the al dente cavatelli that were meanwhile boiling a good 10 or 12 minutes. We like lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese mixed right in with the tomato sauce and pasta before serving.

One last detail. dr bob avoids using salt perhaps more than he should, due to the bad rep it has in the American diet. ms_ani thought the sauce could have used a touch more salt and maybe even just a tad of red pepper powder to give it an edge. Use your judgment. Makes just enough for a couple of hungry humans with a microwavable leftover plate for the next day when it will taste better than the first. Nothing like aged pasta. Enjoy.

cplcvtli.htm: 10-jun-2001 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]