When you’re entertaining, there are a handful of things you absolutely need to get right: spirited company, an excellent bottle of vino or two, and a show-stopping dish, to name a few. And when that show-stopping dish is a platter of veggie-packed pasta with a bulb of creamy burrata, you’re winning at life.
Melbourne chef Ellie Bouhadana’s cavatelli recipe is simple enough to make and you can prep everything in advance – except the theatrical pop of cheese, which Bouhadana says should be done as you serve the pasta, ensuring everyone gets a taste of the creamy burrata. Her green sauce is packed with flavour thanks to the buttery leeks which make a silky, loose sauce to coat the cavatelli. It becomes even more textural when it’s topped with golden, crunchy breadcrumbs.
The Hope St Radio chef says her mostly Mediterranean cooking is uncomplicated and inspired by her Moroccan, Jewish and Israeli heritage. You’ll end up with more sauce than you need for the pasta, but you can store the excess in a jar in the fridge or freezer for another time. It’s particularly good slathered on fresh focaccia.
Bouhadana’s recipe is one of a collection of dishes in a new cookbook by Bed Threads (yes, the linen bedsheet people) who’ve published a tome of their favourite recipes by chefs and cooks Diana Chan, Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Jessica Nguyen, Katherine Sabbath, Lia Townsend and others, called Put On A Spread. The idea behind the book is that you’ll have recipe ideas and dinner party decorating inspiration at the same time.
Get started the day before to allow the pasta to dry out overnight.
Ellie Bouhadana’s cavatelli with green sauce, pangrattato and burrata
Preparation time: 1 hour, plus resting time
Cooking time: 45 minutes
400g semola rimacinata (fine durum wheat flour)
200ml lukewarm water
1 ball of burrata
Half a loaf of day-old bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Pinch of flakey salt
1/8 cup of baby capers
100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
200g broccoli, chopped into florets
100g Tuscan kale, stem removed and the green leafy part roughly sliced
1/4 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of shaved pecorino cheese, plus a handful more
To make the semolina pasta dough, use your hands to combine the semola with the water and begin kneading the dough until it is smooth and elastic (for about 10 minutes).
Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes under a slightly damp tea towel.
Cut the dough into six portions. Take the first piece and roll it into a long rope about 1cm thick.
Cut the rope into pea-sized pieces no wider than 1cm. Once you’ve cut the dough, using a gnocchi board (you could also use a fork), hold a piece of dough against the board with your thumb and roll it down and over the ribbed surface. Continue with the remaining dough until finished.
Place the finished cavatelli on clean tea towels sprinkled with a light dusting of semola to dry out. You can let them dry out on the bench overnight or at least until they are completely dry to the touch.
To make the pangrattato, heat a pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and gently sear the smashed garlic cloves for a minute until the kitchen smells delicious. Add in the breadcrumbs, a big pinch of salt, the chilli flakes and stir. Once the breadcrumbs are toasted, golden and very crunchy, pull the pan from the heat.
To make the green sauce, prepare the leeks by cutting away the root and trim 5–10cm of dark green from the top, so you are left with just the white and light green part of the vegetable. Slice the leeks into 5cm rounds, rinse well to get rid of any grit, then drain.
Melt the butter and 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan over a low-medium heat, add the capers, then add the leeks, garlic, chilli flakes and a scattering of salt and stir until they are shining.
Butter a piece of baking paper and cover the leeks with it before placing the lid over the pan.
Cook over a low, gentle flame for 15 minutes then uncover the leeks and pour in the wine. Stir then cover the leeks again and keep cooking for a further 10–15 minutes or until the wine has cooked off a bit and the leeks are super tender, slightly caramelised and soft.
Prepare a bowl of iced water and leave to the side.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add salt, enough so that the water tastes salty. Blanch the kale and then the broccoli until tender (about 3 minutes) and before straining the greens save about two cups of the blanching water (it will act as a kind of vegetable stock for later). Once strained, quickly shock the blanched greens in the bowl of iced water.
In a food processor, blitz together the leek mixture, blanched greens, 1/2 cup of shaved pecorino, about 1 cup of the warm blanching liquid and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. You want to create a silky, loose sauce to coat the pasta so add more of the vegetable liquid (you will probably need to use 2 cups total of the liquid) as needed in order to loosen the sauce.
Store remaining sauce in a container in the fridge or freezer.
Bring a large pot of water to a fast boil, add salt, stir and add the cavatelli. Cook the pasta for 3–4 minutes until it is al dente. Before draining the pasta, save a mug of the cooking water.
Warm 2.5 cups of the green sauce in a wide pan over a low gentle heat. Transfer the cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce, add a ladle of the pasta cooking water, a handful of pecorino and toss the pan energetically to create a beautifully emulsified sauce.
Serve on a large platter, topped with pangrattato and a ball of burrata.
This is an extract from Put On A Spread – the first cookbook by Bed Threads. $50. Order yours here.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Visit Broadsheet’s recipe hub.