Well I have had a bag of masa in the pantry for a while, I have been using it, making tostada (a crispy fried flat tortilla topped with tasty things), regular tortillas (I even bought a tortilla press) and not least of all tamale. So I guess it’s a little odd my first post about masa is a pasta, there is more than enough information online regarding making the more traditional items and I’m not sure I’ve got much to add to the subject, yet.
This pasta came about due to the fact I had a container full of braised beef leftover from tortillas the previous night and a desire not have a meal rerun. When possible I try to re-purpose leftovers, it’s far too depressing to eat the same thing night after night. The usual suspects ran through my mind while trying to think of something new to do, nachos, tostada, enchilada, quesadilla, the apple not really falling far from the tree as far as ideas go. Still on my pasta making buzz, much to the chagrin of the better half, I mean I make it and eat it a lot, heck if it’s not pasta at the moment, it’s spicy noodle soups. Anyway, I had this idea of pasta nachos, make a pasta that can handle a good sauté to crisp up a bit and take a good thick braise based sauce. I thought of gnocchi and maybe revisiting the potato chip version, but I figured it would probably be best to keep on topic flavour wise so nixed that idea, masa and tortillas still banging about in my head I got to thinking if I could use it to make pasta, I couldn’t think why not, and cavatelli seemed like the perfect choice. I only wish I had a blowtorch (with a Searzall) in the house, I mean it’s the one gadget I’m lacking, but it would have been great to have the pasta tossed in the sauce, plated, topped with cheese and hit with a hot flame to really bubble and crisp up before garnishing.
Spiced masa cavatelli
100g instant masa
170g fine semolina
280g salted water (265ml water +15g salt)
10g spice mix*
*In a spice mill, blend equal quantities of annatto, coriander seeds, and cayenne to a fine powder.
- Mix the dry ingredients together and form a well in the centre.
- Pour in the salt water and work the flour in to form a dough ball.
- Knead until smooth, about 8 minutes.
- Wrap tightly in cling film and let it rest on the bench 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four.
- Take one portion and cover the remainder.
- Using your hands, roll out into a thin log, about a pencil width thick.
- Cut into 1cm segments.
- Hold the gnocchi board at an angle and place a segment on the top edge. Use the heel of your thumb push down on the dough and towards the bottom edge of the board, the dough should curl up and fall of the board.
- Arrange competed cavatelli on a sheet pan dusted with semolina.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Store the tray of pasta at room temp until ready to cook. Alternatively place the tray in the freezer, when frozen solid transfer the pasta to a zip lock bag. The pasta can be cooked straight from frozen.
- Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil.
- Place the pasta in the water, don’t overcrowd the pot.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, they’ll float to the top when cooked.
- Scoop the cooked cavatelli out with a sieve or similar scooping device.
- Sauté in a hot pan with butter to give a crisp exterior.
- Toss through a sauce and serve.