Pasta Lover Recipe: Sara’s Cavatelli Mare e Monti

Sara’s Cavatelli Mare e Monti it’s a delicious recipe for the pasta lovers who crave a main course based on surf and turf.

The surf part for this recipe are the “Monkfish“, a deep water fish with a scary appearance, and a very tasteful and delicate flavors; plus the “vongole veraci” (literally “true” vongole/clams, the Carpet shells or clams). It’s the classic Mediterranean mollusc used for Italian pasta dishes that call for this particular ingredient.

Here’s the recipe and “Buon Appetibilis!”

Recipe for Handmade Cavatelli Surf and Turf (Mare e Monti)

Ingredients for Sara's Cavatelli Mare e Monti
  • Author’s Recipe: Sara Scutti
  • Category: main course, primi
  • Cuisine: Italian, Abruzzo
  • Keywords: fresh pasta, cavatelli, surf and turf
  • Servings: 6 portions
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Difficulty: medium-high


For pasta

  • 500 g durum wheat flour
  • 250 g warm water
  • 20 g sea salt

For condiment

  • 1 monkfish (whole is around 1.5 kg) [*]
  • 500 g carpet shells (or clams) [**]
  • 400 g dry cannellini beans [***]
  • 0.15 g saffron (1 sachet)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 glass white wine (about 250 ml)
  • sea salt to taste
  • olive oil to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)


[*] Very important! Ask your fishmonger to clean the monkfish. For this recipe you’ll be using the fillets; the head, however ugly, (together with the central fishbone) it’s perfect for making a light fish broth great for sauces and/or risottos.
[**] To remove any sand, soak the clams (preferably in sea water) for at least one hour before using them. Then beat them lightly on the table and rinse them under fresh water.
[***] Leave the cannellini beans to soak in a bowl with cold water for at least 12 hours before cooking them.

Making pasta for Sara's Cavatelli Mare e Monti

Time to make the dough!


Let’s start with cannellini cream

  1. Drain the soaked beans and place them in a pan, fill with cold water (just above the beans), and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and cook for at least 90 minutes (or until tender).
  3. Then lightly salt, turn and drain the beans, keep aside.

It’s time to make the cavatelli

  1. On the wooden board pour the semolina with the salt and form a whale in the middle.
  2. Begin by pouring in the warm water little by little (depending on the type of flour you may not need all the water).
  3. Start kneading until you get a smooth and elastic dough, stretching the dough and folding it back on itself several times it helps.
  4. Let the dough rest covered with a damp cloth for at least half an hour.

In the meantime, let’s focus on the condiment

  1. Here comes the monkfish. Get the two fillets by simply passing the knife along the central fishbone.
  2. Then cut them into cubes of about 1 cm.
  3. In a pan, heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. Add some parsley (the stem should be fine), the clams and 1/2 glass of white wine;
  5. as soon as the clams begin to open, remove them from the pan and filter the remaining liquid with a fine mesh strainer to remove any pieces of shell (or else). Keep aside the juice, it’s excellent for adding some savory touch.
  6. Shell most of the clams, yet keep some in their shells for the decoration.
  7. In another large pan, heat 5 tablespoons of oil with a clove of garlic and some parsley.
  8. Add the cubes of monkfish, (here you could also add the fishbone) – a pinch of salt and pepper, sauté them for a few minutes.
  9. Deglaze with some white wine, and let it evaporate, and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  10. Then remove the eventual fish scraps and the garlic, add the clams (with part of their filtered cooking juice), the saffron sachet and, in order to absorb all the flavors, leave it to simmer for few more minutes.
Forming the thick strings for Cavatelli Mari e Monti

Let’s make the Cavatelli

Back to cavatelli

  • Take back the dough, cut a medium-small piece and form some sort of cords of about 1 cm thick.
  • Chop it into little dumplings of about 1 cm long;
  • with the help of your index and middle fingers, crush each dumpling by dragging it towards you until it forms a dimple (or little hollows). Congrats, you’ve just made your first cavatello!
  • Continue until the dough is finished, and remember to flour the board each time you do a batch.
  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. To make them “al dente” a few minutes will be enough, or as soon as they come to the surface.
  • In the meantime, blend the cannellini beans with couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a ladle of boiling water from cooking the pasta poured slowly, until you got a smooth, velvety cream.

Time to serve

  • Pour the cooked cavatelli into the pan with the fish sauce and let them sauté for a minute over medium heat.
  • Serve hot on a plate on which you have poured a spoonful of cannellini cream.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, (or some fresh fennel buds), with the clams in their shell.

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