Baked Cavatelli

by Dana Boyle on October 17, 2011

This is David’s favorite dish – and I made it one night when I was in a hurry after a long day at work at the law firm I used to work at downtown.  I came home and didn’t know what to make and wanted something easy to whip together that seemed a little gourmet and comforting for a date night in with my sweetie.  This picture is from when we were dating and he drove the 110 miles from work to my house for dinner.

The things you do for love!


1 26 oz jar of Pastorelli Spicy Arrabbiata sauce, or my recipe for red sauce modified for this recipe (I’ll link to it later)

1 ball fresh mozzarella or the little pearls

1 bunch of fresh basil

1 pound of dried or fresh cavatelli pasta (they’re dumplings)

1 pound fresh Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (depends on your taste)


Simmer the sauce in a medium sauce pan while you grill the sausage to sear on all sides – you want nice grill marks on them.  Place the sausage in the sauce to simmer and cook the rest of the way for an hour or so.  This makes nice, tender sausage.  My husband loves it this way.

Cook your pasta to al dente per the package instructions and drain well.  Spray a large, shallow casserole with your favorite non-stick spray or coat with butter or whatever you like to help it not to stick.  I use crisco canola oil spray.

Pour the pasta into the baking dish and then arrange the sausage onto the pasta with tongs.  I place them whole.  Then ladle your sauce onto the pasta.  I shake it side to side a little to make sure sauce is everywhere, but be careful, it’s hot and heavy like your date will be after eating this dish, if they’re not in a food coma from eating too much of it.

Then take your basil leaves, whole, and tuck them in around the pan so that they are distributed evenly and mostly coated in sauce.  Use your fingers, just make sure they’re clean.  Either break up your ball of cheese or use the pearls and place them evenly all over the pan of pasta so that each bite will be cheesy and bubbly.

Place toothpicks in the sausage so that you can put foil on top and close the casserole up to keep in moisture so you don’t dry out your pasta.  I use 4 or 5 toothpicks and two large sheets of foil and wrap it up tight.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and then place the dish in the oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly and all the cheese is melted.  If you want, take off the foil and let the cheese brown slightly before taking it out of the oven.

Let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly and set.  Serve with crusty bread if you like, maybe a side salad, and your favorite bottle of wine.

When we were dating, David once ate almost the entire pan of this minus my portion and a little left over.  He doesn’t do that anymore because I probably fattened him up a bit cooking all those delicious things when we were dating.  I still cook like that, but we want to maintain healthier weight, so we watch our portions even though it’s sooooo good.

When I feel like it, I make my own sauce.  Remember, this was an after work quick recipe that he ended up loving, so I repeat it often with the Pastorelli sauce which is great stuff for jarred sauce.  I’ll share my own sauce with you on another post – and you just modify that with spicy red pepper flake and crushed tomatoes, but it makes a ton and it’s something I make and freeze for days when I don’t want to cook.  Unfortunately, I don’t always have it on hand because we eat it up fast.
If you have normal portions, it serves about six people, but definitely four.  It also reheats well for leftovers.



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