Cavatelli with Creamy Sheep Cheese Sauce
An Easy and Rich Companion to Any Lamb Dish
Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times that was originally from 5 Ninth Restaurant.
- Servings: 4.
Cavatelli is a fresh pasta that's made with ricotta cheese. In this simple but rich recipe, the cavatelli is combined with a cream-based sauce made with a semi-soft sheep's milk cheese. The combination is gently flavored but with a slight cheese tang.
Because the sauce uses a sheep's milk cheese, it is a harmonious side to any simple lamb dish -- a roast leg, broiled chops or a braised shoulder.
While fresh cavatelli can be found at a few city pasta stores, frozen cavatelli is almost as good and it's easily found at specialty markets and even some of our chain supermarkets.
Because the cheese brings most of the flavor to this simple recipe, choose one that you love. Remember to taste first before you buy. Some cheeses to consider include Tomme du Berger, a young Pecorino or a Robiola. If you love the power of blue cheese, consider making this recipe with a creamy blue like the Spanish Cabrales.
When making the cheese sauce, use a pot that will be able to contain all the cooked pasta.
- 1 pound cavatelli
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 pound semi-soft sheep's milk cheese cut into small pieces
- White pepper or a few drops of Tabasco
- Cook the cavatelli in salted boiling water according to package instructions until just tender. Sometimes the instructions will call to cook the pasta for longer than you should so watch the pot and test pieces to make sure you don't over-cook it. I prefer it slightly under-cooked so that it's a bit chewy, not all soft.
- While the pasta is cooking, warm the cream in the top of a large double-boiler that's been set over simmering water, or in a large pot on a very low flame, watching the pot carefully so that the cream doesn't burn.
- Add the cheese to the warm cream and stir until it is melted.
- Season with freshly ground white pepper or a few drops of Tabasco (black pepper will put specks of black into your lovely white sauce). Taste and add more pepper or Tabasco if you like. The cheese will probably have made the sauce sufficiently salty so added salt is probably not needed.
- When the cavatelli is al dente, drain it well, giving it a shake to help get the water out from the insides of the folded pieces of pasta.
- Add the drained pasta to the pot with the warm cream and melted cheese. Fold to combine.
- Serve immediately.
Serve with pieces of cooked lamb and a simple green vegetable.