Cavatelli with brown butter pumpkin sauce, rye breadcrumbs, and smoked mozzarella

Super creamy, slightly smoky– need I say more? The rye breadcrumbs really take this up a notch.

Serves 4


For the fresh pasta

  • 2 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1- 1 1/4 cups boiling water

Follow instructions to make here:

If you decide to use dried pasta, use one 1llb.  

For the sauce and topping

  • 6 tbs butter 
  • 1 tbs chopped sage
  • 1 tbs chopped thyme
  • 3 oz dark german rye bread
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs-ish olive oil
  • 1 cup shallots, thinly sliced (about 2-3 shallots)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½-¾ cup chicken stock 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 2 tbs cream
  • ¼ cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup parmesan, freshly grated
  • ½ cup smoked mozzarella 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili flakes (optional)

Earlier in the day

  • Toast your rye bread in the oven at 350 until very dry and crisp, 10-15 minutes. You don’t want to really toast the bread, but you do want to dry it out. Let cool. 
  • In a food processor, grind your dried bread into a fine breadcrumb. You want between ⅓-½ cups in total. 
  • If you are making the pasta, follow the instructions in the link above. It took me about 1.5 hours to make the pasta start to finish. The cavatelli can hold in the fridge for 4 hours before cooking, covered in a towel. 

Make the brown butter

  1. In a small skillet, melt all 6 tables of butter over medium low heat. The butter will start to foam up and develop a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. The color should be caramel brown. Its easy to burn brown butter, so monitor carefully.
  2.  Once the butter is done, remove from heat. Pour 3 tbs of butter into a small bowl over your herbs and set side. Reserve the other 3 tbs of butter. 

Make the rye breadcrumbs

  1. Add 1.5 tbs of the reserved plain brown butter (not the one with the herbs) back to the small skillet and turn on medium low heat. 
  2. Add 2 tbs of pumpkin seeds and saute until the pumpkin seeds begin to brown. 
  3. Add the additional 1.5 tbs of plain brown butter to the pan along with the breadcrumbs. 
  4. Saute until the breadcrumbs are crisp and buttery, just a few minutes. 
  5. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. 

Make the pumpkin sauce

  1. In a large saute pan (you want a large base with walls to hold in sauce), heat up 1 tbs of olive oil
  2. Add your shallots and slowly caramelize on low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Don’t skip this! It really adds flavor to your dish.
  3. Add your minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Add your tomato paste and saute for 2-3 minutes
  5. Deglaze the pan with wine, then add your chicken stock, paprika, remaining ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin. Start with less chicken stock and add more if you need. 
  6. Simmer on low until everything starts to just thicken, 5-10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Add your cream and remove from heat. 
  8. Let cool, then puree in a food processor until smooth

Put it all together

  1. Cook your pasta according to the instructions. Fresh pasta only needs a few minutes. When draining, make sure to reserve ¼ cup of pasta water. 
  2. Heat up your sauce in a saute pan and add the remaining 3 tbs of brown butter with the herbs. 
  3. Add your pasta, along with ¼ cup pasta water, and your cheese (reserve ¼ cup to sprinkle on top)
  4. Simmer and stir until the sauce and pasta come together, a minute or two. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 
  5. Top pasta with breadcrumbs and additional cheese. 
  6. Enjoy!