Handmade pasta is a thing of art. And as with any piece of art, every type of pasta comes with its own folklore. Spaghetti comes from Sicily but may have been brought there by Arab conquest. Ravioli’s earliest mention can be found in letters from a 14th-century Tuscan merchant. Capunti — a short, oval pasta resembling an open pea pod — comes from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot) and is historically made by hand with the highest-quality durum wheat.
Capunti are a favorite of our friend Jason Stoneburner, chef/owner/namesake of Stoneburner, one of Seattle’s best spots for handmade gluten-rich treats. Incredibly versatile, these little canoes can be rustic or fancy, take less than hour to make, and suit any sauce, with all the right crevices to hold on to flavor perfectly. Let our friends at ChefSteps walk you through the steps of making this history-rich pasta in no time at all. Check out the instructional video and full recipe below.
6 ounces durum flour
6 ounces semolina
6 ounces water, plus a little more
Saffron, for color, as needed (optional)
Where do I get durum and semolina?
Most higher-end grocery stores, like Whole Foods, carry specialty flours, and you can also get them on Amazon.
What sauce should I use?
Any sauce you want! You can use capunti in any recipe that calls for short pasta — you might sub it for things like gemelli, rigatoni, or ziti. But hey, it’s your pasta. Top it however you want!
I thought pasta was made with egg. Why no egg in this recipe?
It’s true! Some pasta is made with egg. But some pasta is made without egg. Some pasta is made with saffron, some is made with ricotta, some is made with potatoes. When it comes to gluten-y Italian treats, the pastabilities are endless.
1. Mix durum and semolina together into a mound. Using the bottom of a bowl or cup, create a small well — this will help you slowly incorporate the wet with the dry ingredients.
2. Add threads of saffron to the water and stir until the water takes on a yellow color.
3. Strain the saffron water into the well and slowly incorporate the liquid, little by little. Using your hands, knead the dough to fully hydrate it. Rotate the dough while kneading it to work different angles. Trust us: It’s very hard to overwork this stuff, so give it all you’ve got. You’re done kneading when the surface of the dough is smooth and springy.
4. Wrap the dough with plastic to seal in moisture, and let it rest for 20 minutes. When it’s ready, you’ll see the color shift to an intense yellow.
5. Cut off a 4 1/2-ounce portion of the pasta dough. Roll the portion into a rope, spreading your fingers as you roll, until it’s about a yard long. Don’t add flour while rolling; friction helps the dough stretch.
6. Slice the dough into sections about 5 centimeters long. Then round them out — they should look like doughy little bean pods.
7. There are many ways to skin a cat—and two ways we like to shape our capunti: For a more traditional, rustic approach to capunti, use your fingers to roll out the pasta. Roll the dough beneath the tips of two fingers, using slight pressure to create an indentation. The finished product should look like an open pea pod. To get real fancy with your capunti, use a textured surface — such as an ornate cutting board — to roll out your dough. Sprinkle semolina flour over your textured surface. Gently press down on the pasta with a knife and roll it out across the surface.
8. Boil capunti for two minutes and top with whatever sauce you like.
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