500grams(4 cups) all-purpose flour,plus more for dusting
450grams(1 pound) whole-milk ricotta cheese,store-bought or homemade
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the flour, ricotta, milk, egg, and salt. Knead with your hands or on medium speed for 10 minutes, until fully combined and the dough is fairly smooth, but may still be a bit sticky. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and dust with flour.
Cut off a chunk of dough about the width of 2 fingers and leave the rest covered with plastic wrap. On a lightly floured work surface, use your hands to roll the chunk into a rope about ½ inch (12 mm) in diameter. Do not incorporate too much more flour into the dough, adding just enough so the dough does not stick to the surface.
Cut the rope into ½- to 1-inch (12-mm to 2.5-cm) pieces. With the side of your thumb, gently push each piece against a gnocchi board or the back of the tines of a fork, rolling and flicking the dough to make a curled shape with an indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other. Arrange cavatelli on the prepared baking sheets and shape the remaining dough. Make sure that the cavatelli don’t touch or they will stick together.
To cook, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the cavatelli and simmer until they float to the surface, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and finish with your choice of sauce. Serve immediately.
To store, refrigerate on the baking sheets, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Or freeze on the baking sheets until cavatelli are frozen solid, then transfer to an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag. Use frozen cavatelli within 3 to 4 months. Do not thaw before cooking.
Cavatelli can be served with just about any sauce, including tomato sauce, meat ragù (meat sauce), pesto, brown butter, fonduta (cheese sauce), puttanesca sauce, amatriciana sauce, pink vodka sauce, and more.
The intended serving size of 8 for the recipe is fair (about 135 grams—uncooked—or 45 pieces of cavatelli per person), but you could spread it out a bit more heartily and serve 6 instead (about 180 grams—uncooked—or 60 pieces of cavatelli per person).
If you own a hand-crank cavatelli machine, you should be able to use it for this dough (though I haven't tested it myself since I don't own a machine). Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for forming them.