Cavatelli + Hot Peppers


I had just finished manning the pasta station at a country club, which is not glamorous work, but knowing how to churn out pasta for 80 - 100 people is necessary in Eastern Ohio. I had been staring at red sauce, white sauce, and oil + garlic for about an hour and a half, and I was losing my mind. I was listening to people give inevitable instructions like,  "Add chicken," "Make an alfredo," or "Do a vodka sauce!" There's not much room for imagination at a pasta station in a country club. Still, I was going to cook for myself from that same pasta station, and I sure as hell didn't want to eat anything these country club goers were. I definitely wasn't going to make myself cook penne - the country club of pastas.

As I was tearing down the station, I ran into my brother (who was the GM) and said, "Hey, man - have you ever made pasta and red sauce with like, a LOT of oil in it..." Before I finished my sentence, my brother knew exactly what I was talking about. Turns out we had been doing the same little experiment in our free time. We had both arrived to the same conclusion separately. I imagine that he too, over the course of his life, has stared at pasta and sauce so much that the wheels started churning on how to do something a little bit different.

That night I sautéed tomatoes, banana peppers, and garlic in a lot of oil. Then I added just a little bit of tomato sauce and tossed it with cavatelli. It was great. It was oily like an aglio e olio, but it still had some faint red sauce consistency to it. The pasta was stained with tomatoes, not drenched in it. This recipe is a riff on oil + garlic. When there's a good amount of oil, you don't need much else. You don't need to start adding pizza toppings like you're baking a penne casserole. There's no cheese in this dish because it doesn't need it. It's thrifty in the sense that I used some pepper oil (oil that I saved from frying hot peppers last Sunday) to the sauce. It's plenty filling without meat and cheese. Most great pastas are vegetarian in my experience.

- Danny

Saute the peppers in your pepper oil until wilted, then add the halved cherry tomatoes. Cook all until it looks like the mixture above. Add the sliced garlic, then the olive oil. Cook for another few minutes, then toss with cavatelli.

I used probably 1/2 lb of pasta here. Once the cavatelli floats in heavily salted boiling water, I add about another 3 minutes of cooking time.

5 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1/2 lb. of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5-7 hot banana peppers, slivered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pepper oil
1/4 cup red sauce (I didn't use it here)

Note: You don't NEED pepper oil, but last week I fried some hot peppers and saved the oil in plastic wrap. The oil became infused with hot peppers and it was quite nice.

Cavatelli Instructions
Pretty simple. Make a well with your flour and add the eggs. Add the olive oil and start to slowly incorporate, forming a ball with your hands. Fold, punch, and knead until you get a smooth, stretchable ball. Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of water to help the process if it's too dry. Now, just make little "snakes" and feed them through a cavatelli machine. I flour the mechanism on the machine to ensure no dough gets stuck.

For Cavatelli
3 1/2 cups AP King Arthur flour
5 eggs
1 tablespoon of olive oil