If you're in search of a Cascatelli recipe that really brings out the most important components of this new pasta shape, this is the recipe for you: Cascatelli with Peas in a creamy Ricotta Sauce.
What in the world is Cascatelli?
I'm glad you asked. Cascatelli is, to my knowledge, the newest pasta shape on the market. Manufactured by Sfoglini, Cascatelli was created by Mr. Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful Podcast, over a span of a few years.
As he explains in his podcast, he set out on a mission to develop a new pasta shape that would add value to the pasta world. In other words, it was less about creating something new, and more about creating something new and functional.
3 Characteristics of Cascatelli
His three criteria, as you may have learned by now if you've been following the story, were "forkability", "sauceability", and "toothsinkability." After 12 weeks of waiting for my new pasta to arrive, I can finally say that it delivered on all three of these criteria. In fact, I immediately ordered more.
It's perfectly forkable: large enough to stab with a fork but small enough to still be sauceable. The size along with the wavy, waterfall-like ridges and rough surface help catch and latch onto the sauce. Toothsinkability is at an all time high with this pasta too. It' fairly dense, so it stays perfectly al-dente when cooked. No mushy pasta here!
Best Types of Sauce for a Cascatelli recipe
Because Mr. Pashman so carefully designed Cascatatelli to be sauceable, I think it's best used in thick, chunky sauces, or any dish in which the pasta must catch and hold other ingredients. For example, Bolognese would be great. Mac n' cheese with veggies is another option, as is pasta salad (linked here and below), Puttanesca, all'Amatriciana, or my rich and delicious red wine ragù.
Creamy Ricotta Sauce
For my first recipe starring Cascatelli, I decided that I'd keeping it simple without sacrificing flavor or texture. Cascatelli with Peas & Ricotta Sauce does just that. It's thick and creamy, but also chunky, crunchy, and FLAVORFUL, with ingredients like peas, pistachios, mint, and basil all making appearances.
If you're still having trouble getting your hand on a shipment of Cascatelli, this creamy ricotta sauce would also be excellent with other small hearty pasta shapes such as rigatoni, orecchiette, radiatore, fusilli, and mafaldine.
The Pasta Water Method
As you probably know by now, I am a huge advocate for what I call "The Pasta Water Method." This is my name for the method in which you add pasta water to a sauté or mixture in order to transform it into a true sauce. Doing so allows the sauce to really cling to the pasta rather than slipping off of it.
Read more about it in my recent article dedicated to the method here.
This bright and creamy Cascatelli recipe is the perfect way to try out your new pasta.
- 16oz dry Cascatelli Pasta
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- ⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 10 Basil leaves, finely chopped
- 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
- ¼c pistachios, finely chopped
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional but highly recommended. See note 1)
- Boil a pot of water for the pasta. Once boiling, salt heavily, add the Cascatelli, and set a timer for 13 minutes. (Cascatelli takes a long time to cook!)
- Slice the garlic and set it aside. Finely chop the pistachios and herbs, combine them in a small bowl, and set them aside as well.
- Allow Cascatelli to cook for 6 minutes before starting the sauce. After these 6 minutes, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for 1-2 minutes, moving constantly so the garlic doesn't burn. Once garlic softens, but before it burns, add the ricotta, a ladleful of pasta water, and pinches of salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Simmer the ricotta sauce until the 13-mintue timer sounds. At this point, transfer Cascatelli to the ricotta sauce using a spider. Add the Parmesan cheese, freshly grated nutmeg, and peas and toss to combine. Cook for 2 minutes. If the ricotta sauce gets too thick and chunky in those 2 minutes, add a little more pasta water to thin it out.
- Top with the pistachio and herb mixture and more freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!
Note 1: Freshly grated nutmeg cuts through creamy and cheesy foods so well, while also adding a complex flavor element to the dish. It's bright and slightly spicy, so I add it to mac n/ cheese, this ricotta sauce, and even my lemon ricotta pizza, to make them taste brighter and less "heavy" like many cream or cheese sauces can taste. So though it's optional for this dish, I highly recommend trying it. And freshly grated tastes very different from pre-ground.
Keywords: Cascatelli Recipe, Cascatelli, new pasta, ricotta sauce