The Ultimate Pasta Machine Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Every Kind of Amazing Pasta Your Pasta Maker Can Make, written by Lucy Vaserfirer, features a fun and exciting collection of homemade pasta, sauces, and accompaniments to make full use of your pasta machine. A few highlights include Chocolate Tagliatelle with Pork and Red Wine Ragu, Grano Arso Cavatelli with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce, Quadrucci with Melted Zucchini, Garganelli with Peas and Prosciutto, and Turkey Meatball Soup with Pasta and Vegetables. I will also be sharing her recipe for Butternut Squash Cavatelli following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Harvard Common Press in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Lucy Vaserfirer is a culinary educator, chef, recipe developer, food stylist, food photographer, and cookbook author. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with degrees in culinary arts and patisserie and baking and currently lives in Vancouver, Washington. Lucy is also the author of Not Your Mother’s Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, Flavored Butters, Marinades, and Seared to Perfection.
The Ultimate Pasta Machine Cookbook
Lucy begins with a short introduction before jumping right into all the ways you can use your home pasta machine. The book covers three types of machines: the sheeter with accessory cutters, the extruder, and the cavatelli maker with an incredibly detailed guide to help you every step of the way. You will find basic and colored pasta dough, delicious fillings for stuffed pasta, plus fun and creative sauces. Nothing goes to waste. She evens mentions how to use any leftover scrap pieces of dough and finishes with cleaning and care tips to keep your machine in the best shape.
The chapters are divided according to the following: Using the Sheeter Pasta Machine; Using the Extruder Pasta Machine; Using the Cavatelli Maker Pasta Machine; Storing, Cooking, Saucing, and Serving Fresh Pasta and Noodles; Creating Finished Dishes; and Pantry and Fridge Staples for Pasta Cooks.
Lucy is also the photographer. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full page photo of the shaped or finished pasta. There are a couple of step-by-step photos to demonstrate techniques such as mixing the dough and forming the shapes. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in English. Each recipe includes a short headnote with serving size, variations, and helpful notes.
Butternut Squash Cavatelli
I have formed cavatelli a few times by hand, but I finally purchased the cavatelli maker that has been on my wishlist for years to create this Butternut Squash Cavatelli! It is so much fun to use and now a favorite kitchen gadget with my daughter as well.
To make the Butternut Squash Cavatelli, half a seeded butternut squash is roasted in a 400˚F (200˚C) oven until tender (don’t undercook or you will end up with bits and pieces of squash), then puréed using a ricer or food mill until smooth. Make sure the butternut squash is completely smooth to incorporate into the dough.
The squash puree is combined with semolina and water, then kneaded well to create a firm and smooth dough. It is best to do this by hand. Lucy states “Although it is possible to mix dough for the cavatelli maker in the food processor or stand mixer, I can’t recommend it. The dough is really too firm for either of these machines to fully develop and several minutes of kneading by hand would still be required.” After wrapping the dough and resting for 1-2 hours, the is ready to cut into strips and rolled through the cavatelli maker.
If the dough sticks to the machine during the rolling process, it is too wet and needs another pinch or so of flour kneaded in until smooth. If it is too crumbly and doesn’t curl into the right shape, it is too dry and needs a few drops of water mixed in.
After shaping the cavatelli, they can be arranged in a single layer on pasta screens or lined baking trays and cooked immediately in boiling water (for 5-6 minutes, until just tender) or left at room temperature for a few hours. Lucy recommends serving the Butternut Squash Cavatelli simply with a Sage Brown Butter sauce (so good!) or her Pasta with Italian Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Sage.
Semolina (Farina di Semola, durum wheat flour) is a flour with a high protein content perfect for holding together short, thick pasta shapes without the need for eggs. It can be located in the specialty flour section of many larger grocery stores (I recently picked it up at Eataly here in Los Angeles), especially those featuring Italian ingredients or on Amazon: Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Pasta Flour.
I also made Ravioli with Creamy Mushroom Filling, Bucatini, Fettuccine with Alfredo Sauce, and Lamburger Helper.
The Stuffed Pasta section has plenty of exciting fillings to make a variety of ravioli, tortellini, tortelloni, agnolotti, and more. I started with the Creamy Mushroom Filling made by sautéing mushrooms and blending them with ricotta, Parmigiano, garlic, and nutmeg until smooth. It was delicious as a filling for ravioli and paired with brown butter and toasted walnuts.
I made Bucatini (hollow round pasta strands) using the basic semolina extruder dough. The dough worked perfectly! I have only had the extruder attachment for my stand mixer for about a year, so I especially appreciate all the helpful tips and upkeep for the machine along with new recipes to try.
After making the basic egg pasta dough and forming it into Fettuccine, I paired it with Lucy’s Alfredo Sauce for a quick and easy meal. The sauce comes together with only a handful of ingredients and is so incredibly comforting.
From the moment I first opened the book, I was immediately drawn to the Lamburger Helper and used it as a pairing for the Butternut Squash Cavatelli. Ground lamb is simmered in a tomato sauce with onion, jalapeño, garlic, Aleppo pepper, coriander, cumin, and cilantro. The sauce takes only about 30 minutes and is packed with flavor. After tossing with the pasta, it is topped with a sprinkling of crumbled feta for a wonderful contrast immediately before serving.
The Ultimate Pasta Machine Cookbook is a great pick for those looking for fun ways to use their home pasta machine. The level of detail packed into every page makes it perfect even for beginners. The sauces range from quick and easy weeknight dinners to more robust stews with longer simmering times. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few items that may require further searching include semolina, pancetta, fresh seafood, taleggio, squid ink, morels, saffron, prosciutto, doubanjiang, Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce, Szechuan peppercorns, and katsuobushi.
Butternut Squash Cavatelli Recipe
Excerpt from The Ultimate Pasta Machine Cookbook
Butternut Squash Cavatelli
- 1/2 medium (about 515 grams/1 lb. 2 oz) butternut squash halved and seeded
- 500 grams (1 lb. 1 2/3 oz) semolina
- 70 grams ( 2 1/2 oz) water
- Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C, or gas mark 6).
- Bake the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet for 30 minutes. Flip the squash and bake until tender to the center when tested with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Let cool.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin and purée it using a ricer or food mill. Let cool to room temperature.
- Use 240 grams (8 1/2 ounces) of the squash purée to mix the dough. Reserve the remaining squash purée for another use.
To form the pasta dough:
- Place the semolina in a large bowl or on a wooden board and make a well in the center. Place the pureed butternut squash and water in the well, then bring the dough together using a fork.
- The amount of flour needed may vary slightly depending on the brand of the flour and the humidity. Keep in mind that it's much easier to add flour to a wet dough than it is to add liquid to a dry dough, so you can hold back a bit of the flour at first and then add more if the dough feels sticky. You're after a firm dough that's just barely sticky. A bit of tension between the machine and the dough is what causes the dough to curl up into cavatelli.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Kneading will be a little bit of a workout. If you or the dough need a break, by which I mean the dough feels resistant to kneading or seems to be tearing, wrap the dough in plastic wrap or cover with an inverted bowl and let rest for a few minutes. Kneading should be much easier once you come back to it. The dough is ready when it springs back readily when poked. If there are any dry bits of dough on the kneading surface, take care to avoid working them into the dough.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least an hour and preferably two. The resting time allows the flour to fully hydrate.
- At this point you can refrigerate the wrapped pasta dough for 24 to 48 hours. Bring refrigerated pasta dough to room temperature before shaping.
To shape the cavatelli:
- Work quickly to prevent the pasta from drying out. Do not use dusting flour. Cut the dough in half and rewrap 1 portion to keep it from drying out.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the other portion of dough to a thickness of just under 1/2 inch (1 cm). Cut the dough into strips that are all the same width and somewhat narrower than the rollers of the machine, 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide is a pretty good size.
- Pass each strip of dough through the machine, cranking the handle slowly to form the cavatelli. Make more cavatelli with the remaining portion of dough in the same manner.
- The size of the cavatelli will vary depending on the width of the strips of dough.
- Scraps and misshapen cavatelli, which happen from time to time, can be kneaded together and then formed again.
- Try to make all of the cavatelli within each batch the same thickness and size so that they cook evenly.
- Arrange cavatelli as they are made in a single layer on pasta screens or flour sack towel-lined baking trays.
- Cavatelli may be cooked immediately or left at room temperature like this for up to several hours. To keep cavatelli that's made in the morning moist until dinnertime, keep it covered with flour sack towels on a flour sack towel-lined pasta screens or baking trays.